IDPH releases COVID-19 Halloween guidance

Iowa News

Halloween candy displayed at a store in Freeport, Maine. Earlier Halloween displays at some chains stores likely helped boost sales. But Americans may also be in a mood to celebrate after months of pandemic anxiety. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

DES MOINES, Iowa (KCAU) – Many Iowans are preparing to celebrate Halloween, and the Iowa Department of Public Health has released guidelines to help the public take precautions against COVID-19.

The IDPH released guidance for parents/guardians, community members, and attraction/event operators, so they can take the proper precautions when celebrating Halloween.

If you have the coronavirus or may have been exposed to some who has, the IDPH recommends not participating in any in-person activities and not handing out candy to trick-or-treaters.

Parents and guardians are advised to stay local and limit the number of houses their children visit when trick-or-treating. They can also consider holding the treat bag for smaller children and maintaining six feet away from treat-givers. The IDPH also reminds families to only accept factory-wrapped treats and to wipe off candy wrappers after arriving home.

The IDPH recommends contacting a doctor if your child has a greater risk of having complications if infected with COVID-19. The CDC has guidance on assessing what’s best for your family this year.

Community members are advised to leave grab bags/paper cups with goodies outside for children to take instead of selecting from a bowl and to wave to trick-or-treaters through a window.

Attraction and event operators are encouraged to follow all state and local requirements and guidelines, utilize and monitor Iowa’s coronavirus website to stay updated on COVID-19, refrain from letting groups intermingle, and reinforce social distancing with markers or divers. The IDPH also recommends making hand sanitizer available, pre-selling tickets to ensure limited capacities, possibly eliminating areas to sit or play, and notifying the local health departments if someone with COVID-19 has visited the attraction.

The guidance puts certain activities as lower risk, moderate risk, or high risk and asking people to avoid high risk activities.

Low Risk Activities

  • Carving/decorating pumpkins with members of your household and displaying them
  • Carving/decorating pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends
  • Decorating your house/apartment/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 trick-or-treating where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go while continuing to social distance (such as at the end of a driveway or at the edge of a yard)
  • If you are preparing goodie bags, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after preparing the bags.
  • Having a small group, outdoor, open-air costume parade where people are distanced more than six feet apart
  • Attending a costume party held outdoors where protective masks are used and people can remain more than six feet apart
    • A costume mask (such as for Halloween) is not a substitute for a cloth mask. 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 mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.
  • Going to an open-air, one-way, walk-through haunted forest where appropriate mask use is enforced, and people can remain more than six feet apart
    • If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.
  • Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, wearing masks is encouraged or enforced, and people are able to maintain social distancing
  • Having an outdoor Halloween movie night with local family friends with people spaced at least six 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

High Risk Activities

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

  • Participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door to door
  • Having trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots
  • Attending crowded costume parties held indoors
  • Going to an indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming
  • Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household
  • Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgment and increase risky behaviors
  • Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19

They also encourage everyone to follow the CDC’s Guidance.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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