Like most events and holidays that have taken place amid the COVID pandemic, Halloween is going to look a lot different this year. Obviously, kids trick or treat outside, which may make parents more inclined to let their children go door to door. Given the nature of the virus, parents are likely beginning to wonder what safety measures they should take this year.
"There's a whole spectrum of things to consider," said Dr. Jean Moorjani, a board-certified pediatrician at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital in Florida. "The most important thing is that families decide together what level of risk they're OK with this Halloween. For example, are you OK with people you don't know knocking on your door? My family doesn't know 90 percent of the people that come to our door on a typical Halloween night! So it's thinking about things like that."
If making the most of Halloween is at the top of your family's to-do list, read on to see what you should be aware of in the makeshift horror film that is 2020.
Is It Safe to Leave a Bowl of Candy Out This Year?
Although families might be apprehensive when it comes to handing out goodies, Dr. Moorjani offered some tips for doing so safely. "Obviously trick-or-treating can't be done in these little social bubbles we've been hearing so much about," she shared. "If a family is participating and handing out candy, they should designate one person to do so. Don't get the kids involved in the process this year, for example. It's also probably safer if one person is passing out candy instead of a bunch of kids reaching into a candy bowl."
If you want to get everyone in on the action, Dr. Moorjani suggests having people sit outside to watch the trick-or-treaters. "The family can hang out in the driveway with chairs and set up a table that's further away with a bowl of candy and some sanitizer," she said. "Of course, you'll want to ensure each piece is individually wrapped!"
Additionally, some parents are considering having a "reverse drive-by" Halloween setup. "So the kids stand in their front yards in their costumes with an adult present," explained Dr. Moorjani. "Then other adults in the neighbourhood drive by and then toss candy onto the lawn." Honestly, that sounds pretty freakin' fun!
Should Kids Wear Gloves on Halloween?
While parents should certainly have their kids wear face masks while collecting candy, they can skip the gloves this year. "Just do your best, wash your hands, and use hand sanitizer before you take the candy," said Dr. Moorjani, who explained that gloves work best when you can change them regularly. "I don't think there's a lot of good advice to support wearing gloves. When I'm in the hospital and seeing patients, I do wear gloves. I wash my hands, I put on gloves, and I examine patients. As soon as I'm done seeing that one patient I take my gloves off, and then I wash my hands."
In most cases, people who wear gloves in public rarely change them, which defeats the purpose of wearing them in the first place. "If they're not washing or changing their gloves, they're just really moving germs around," advised Dr. Moorjani. "It's not recommended in this setting."
Should Parents Sanitize Their Kids Halloween Candy?
When the pandemic first began, it wasn't unusual to see people sanitizing their packages and groceries. However, this practice may not be necessary when it comes to your kids' Halloween candy. "The transmission of the coronavirus on surfaces is low," explained Dr. Moorjani. "If you feel really inclined to sanitize your children's Halloween candy, go for it! However, if you're one of those people who feels the need to seriously sanitize everything, it may be best to buy your own Halloween candy and just give it your kids."
What Should Parents Bring When Taking Their Kids Trick-or-Treating?
Of course, parents who take their children trick-or-treating should bring hand sanitizer and require their little ones to wear masks. And while taking extra precautions amid the pandemic are naturally top of mind, Dr. Moorjani wants to remind people about the other safety precautions they should consider.
"A lot of us are used to wearing masks already, so maybe this Halloween, kids can kids decorate one of their masks and have that be a part of their costume," she said. "Parents should also bring flashlights, glow sticks, or any reflective material, so that they're visible if they're trick-or-treating after dark. Halloween is also a great time to remind families about getting their flu shots!"