Halloween should be scary—in a fun way—and yet stay safe, say county public health officials.
The pandemic is still spreading in Missouri and Shelby County Health Director Audrey Gough says in her 34 years in public health this is the first time she’s had to issue safety measures for Trick or Treating.
Missouri’s seven-day average of new cases (up to Oct 27) was 13,158, with 14 deaths daily in that period. Missouri COVID-19 Dashboard
Gough cautions older people who enjoy having costumed kiddos come by to participate by not coming into direct contact with small children or their families who might have symptoms. SHe says leave individually wrapped treat bags of candy away from the front door, even at the end of a driveway.
A shared bowl can be a germ spreader—especially with colder weather and kids with runny noses.
Gough says use germ protection when eating the treats too.
“As soon as they get home from Trick or Treating, go straight to the bathroom and wash their hands with soap and water. Make every effort to have clean hands before you start handling candy in the bag. I know there’s kids that are going to eat candy along the way. We would just encourage mom and dad just to put hand sanitizer in their pockets and use it before they actually open up something and eat it.”
She says when it comes to holiday traditions, communication is most important during this pandemic.
“Make plans and feelings known about how they want to do things. You’re going to have families who are still going to gather and just take their chances and then there are people who are extremely cautious and want to make sure they don’t provide an opportunity to spread. Making those thoughts and wishes ahead of time where people can still enjoy being together without being on pins and needles.”
The state’s public health professionals in One For All Missouri shared this checklist:
- There are ways to celebrate safely – so you don’t put yourself or others at risk.
- DO trick-or-treat in your house or yard.
- DO organize a physically distanced costume parade in your neighborhood.
- DO leave individually wrapped treat bags of candy at the end of your driveway.
- DO incorporate a face mask in your costume, instead of letting a Halloween mask suffice
- DO have a physically distanced outdoor gathering with a small group.
- DO follow best practices for stopping the spread of COVID-19.
- Pre-package candy in bags for trick-or-treaters, instead of a shared bowl.
- Wear a mask if you open your door to trick-or-treaters.
- Wash your hands before eating any candy.
The American Red Cross of Central & Northern Missouri also published a list of Halloween high-risk activities:
- Having trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots
- Attending crowded indoor costume parties
- 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 fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with a community spread of COVID-19