Despite the horrors of COVID-19, trick-or-treating in 2020 probably won’t be too different compared to previous years.
“We’re just going to be trick-or-treating as normal, but with masks. And hopefully with distance,” said Rachel Belloma, a mother of two who lives in Pittsburgh’s Morningside neighborhood.
Belloma’s plan aligns with advice from medical experts and public health officials.
“I think Halloween can be done quite safely,” Dr. Debra Bogen, a pediatrician and director of the Allegheny County Health Department, said at a recent press conference.
Bogen told county residents to keep celebrations outside, and to wear cloth face masks. Guidance from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and the City of Pittsburgh also specify that masks must be cloth because plastic or cardboard costume masks don’t provide enough protection.
“You can decorate it, make it part of your costume,” suggested Dr. Beverly Brown, a pediatrician at Children’s Home of Pittsburgh, which specializes in serving medically fragile kids.
Door knocking is out this year. Brown recommends that people who plan to give out candy wash their hands and put on a mask before handling the treats. Candy should be spaced out on a table in front of a residence to maintain distance and minimize the number of hands touching a single surface.
It’s also important to avoid others while going from house to house.
“[That’s] a little bit harder for the little ones who want to just run up and be all close together. I have a four and a six-year-old, so I understand that,” said Brown. “But, they've been doing it for a while now, so they're getting better.”
While trick-or-treating may be one of the safest holiday traditions to enjoy during the pandemic, every activity incurs some level of danger.
“How people approach trick-or-treating this year is really dependent on their own risk tolerance…social interaction spreads the virus,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security. But he agreed the holiday tradition could be celebrated with mild risk.
“We’re all approaching a COVID winter with a certain amount of dread,” said Rachel Belloma of Morningside. “It’s the last thing we can do with mitigated risk that’s outside, that’s something approximating normal life.”
Trick-or-treating in the city of Pittsburgh is from 5-7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 31.