Is trick-or-treating safe this year? What Halloween will look like amid COVID-19

CDC breaks down higher, moderate, lower risk activities for Halloween

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Moms like Rachael Wright of Orlando’s Baldwin Park neighborhood aren’t quite comfortable this year with the traditional Halloween activities.

“We probably won’t be trick-or-treating,” said Wright. “It’s obviously a disappointment but I think the most important thing is to celebrate safely.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends celebrating with as few people as possible this year as to limit the spread of Coronavirus.

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CDC guidelines rank Halloween activities by lower, moderate, and higher risk for the virus.

Lower risk activities include:

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 include:

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 second 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 masks 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 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 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.

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 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.

And higher risk activities include:

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 judgement 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

The Halloween Spirit store on East Colonial Drive in Orlando was busy all day Monday with shoppers searching for costumers, including Major and Taylor Smith.

The Smiths promise to take their newborn trick-or-treating for her first Halloween.

“I’m not too worried about it honestly,” Major Smith said. “I’m going to knock on doors still. I feel like if they don’t want people knocking on the doors they should put up a sign.”

Christina Hinnant, a mother of three, is working on an alternative to trick-or-treating.

“We have no idea what Halloween is going to look like this year with COVID-19 on and social distancing still going on,” Hinnant said. “A group of neighbors have decided collectively we’re going to do a Halloween party just amongst us instead, and if we get some trick-or-treaters, awesome. Reality-wise I think keeping distance, having a mask, that’s attainable, but actually keeping the kids just to themselves on Halloween I don’t think that’s going to really fly. At least for us.”

Hinnant said she’s considering a scaled-down trunk-or-treat event in her neighbors' garages.

“Honestly these are people we commingle with every day, so I don’t know if it’s the best thing to do but we kind of think that our risk level has already been determined within our little bubble,” Hinnant said.

About the Author:

Erik von Ancken anchors and reports for WKMG-TV News 6 (CBS) in Orlando and is a two-time Emmy award-winning journalist in the prestigious and coveted "On-Camera Talent" categories for both anchoring and reporting. Erik joined the News 6 News Team in 2003 days after the tragic loss of space shuttle Columbia.