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Halloween can be done safely says head of Maine CDC

He says there are risks with trick or treating, but it is typically done outside.
Published: Oct. 30, 2020 at 11:12 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 30, 2020 at 3:56 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - Halloween can be done safely...

That’s the message from the Director of the Maine CDC.

Dr. Nirav Shah talked about what is normally a very festive weekend ahead..

He says there are risks with trick or treating, but it is typically done outside.

He asks that people who do partake avoid large groups.

Shah’s biggest concern is with adults and possible Halloween parties.

“Those are the gatherings that I’m really worried about,” he said. “Those are the ones that this weekend groups may be gathering at friends houses that’s the ones where I think we really need to be careful. Those are the ones, those small gatherings where unbeknownst to anybody COVID-19 could be a part of those parties that’s where I really want everyone to wear a face covering.”

The state has provided a list of low, moderate and high risk activities for Halloween activities.

It’s listed below.

Halloween activities

This fall, Maine communities are focused on the safety of children and families and reducing COVID-19 transmission risk. Maine communities have worked hard to prioritize the safe reopening of schools. The following guidance for Halloween activities is intended to help support these efforts. It is also important to add a note of caution that the Maine COVID-19 situation may change at any point. Families are encouraged to monitor updated information at the time of planned activities.

Regardless of how you choose to celebrate Halloween it is important to keep the following in mind:

  • Correctly wear a cloth face covering to prevent disease spread when outside your home and around others that are not part of your household. A costume mask should not be considered appropriate for this purpose unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around the face.
  • Avoid confined spaces. Actively stay away from indoor spaces that don’t allow for easy distancing of at least 6 feet between you and others.
  • Avoid close contact. Stay at least 6 feet away (3 or more adult steps) from all other people who are not part of your own household, especially while talking, eating, drinking, and singing.
  • Wash or sanitize your hands often.
  • Clean frequently touched items regularly.
  • If you are sick, or you have been in contact with someone who is sick with COVID-19 or has symptoms of COVID-19, you should stay home, not participate in in-person Halloween festivities, and not give out candy to trick-or-treaters.
  • Many traditional Halloween activities can be high-risk for spreading viruses. There are several safer, alternative ways to participate in Halloween:

Lower risk activities

These lower risk activities can be safe alternatives:

  • Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household and displaying them
  • Carving or decorating pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends
  • Decorating your house, apartment, or living space
  • Doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance
  • Having a virtual Halloween costume contest
  • Having a Halloween movie night with people you live with
  • Having a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going house to house

Moderate risk activities

  • Participating in one-way or otherwise distanced trick-or-treating where individually wrapped food or goodie bags are lined up or otherwise accessible for families to grab and go while continuing to maintain physical distance (such as at the end of a driveway, yard, or on a doorstep) If you are preparing goodie bags, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 second=s before and after preparing the bags.
  • Having a small group, outdoor, open-air costume parade where people are distanced more than 6 feet apart
  • Attending a costume party held outdoors where protective face coverings are used and people can remain more than 6 feet apart A costume mask (such as for Halloween) is not a substitute for a cloth face covering. A costume mask should not be used unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around the face. Do not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth face covering because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth face covering.
  • Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, wearing cloth face coverings is encouraged or enforced, and people are able to maintain physical distancing
  • Having an outdoor Halloween movie night with local family friends with people spaced at least 6 feet apart If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus. Lower your risk by following CDC’s recommendations on hosting gatherings or cook-outs.

Higher risk activities

Avoid these higher risk activities to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19:

  • Participating in trick-or-treating where large groups of people go door to door to receive treats that are handed out in person
  • Having trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in parking lots, drawing large crowds
  • Attending crowded costume parties held indoors
  • Going to a haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming
  • Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household
  • Be sure to check about community spread of COVID-19 if you intend to go to a festival or other activities outside of your community.

Other activities

  • Bobbing for apples and the donut on a string game present unique COVID-19 mitigation challenges and are not recommended between individuals of different household groups at this time. If individuals from different household groups are bobbing for apples, between each use change the water and apples, and clean and disinfect the container.

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