Houston health officials suggest Halloween alternatives amid COVID-19 pandemic

(Photo by: Philippe Lissac/Godong/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says the City is not canceling Halloween this year, but health officials are encouraging residents to find alternative ways to celebrate amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Houston Health Department says going door-to-door and attending traditional Halloween events are high-risk activities for spreading COVID-19.

“The City of Houston is not canceling Halloween this year, but we are discouraging people from gathering in large groups. It is important that we keep the COVID-19 numbers moving in the right direction. This requires us to be smarter about how we trick-or-treat,” said Mayor Turner. “Families and children can still have a ghoulish good time without jeopardizing their health and safety during the pandemic.”

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The Health Department suggests one-way trick-or-treating as a safer alternative to the traditional method. This involves setting up a table or blanket at the end of a driveway where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go while maintaining a safe social distance.

“While the one-way alternative is safer than traditional trick-or-treating, it still comes with a moderate risk of virus transmission,” said Dr. David Persse, chief medical officer for the City of Houston. “While there isn’t a way to completely eliminate the risk of COVID-19 transmission with any activity, we can take simple steps to reduce it.”

They also recommend the following activities as alternatives to haunted houses and other indoor activities:

- Haunted forests for easier social distancing

- Halloween scavenger hunts or spooky movie nights with household members

- Baking Halloween-themed treats with household members

- Virtual costume parties

The Health Department also says that a costume mask is not a substitute for a face cloth mask unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that cover the mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around the face.

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They warn that wearing a costume mask over a protective cloth mask can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it harder to breathe. Health officials recommend a Halloween-themed cloth mask as an alternative.

The Health Department says those who may have COVID-19 or who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 should not answer the door to trick-or-treaters.

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