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New York State releases COVID-19 Halloween guidance

Don't forget to wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer before, during, and after any Halloween activities.

ALBANY, N.Y. — With Halloween right around the corner, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has released guidance to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the holiday.

The New York State Department of Health is recommending families to follow several precautions if they plan on taking part in more traditional Halloween activities this year. Some of these precautions include enjoying virtual celebrations or socially distanced activities that are outdoors.

However, the department of health says if there is a high number of COVID cases in your area, families should skip any in-person celebrations or activities altogether.

Families that choose to go trick-or-treating this year are being advised to go only with their household family group. Families should avoid traditional trick-or-treating where candy is being handed out at the door, and where you cannot safely socially distance.

Trick-or-treaters are also being advised not to pick candy from a bowl or take candy directly from someone's hands. Taking candy from someone else's candy bag is also discouraged.

If there is crowding in front of a particular house, trick-or-treaters are advised to skip that house. The department of health stresses that people need to stay socially distanced from those you don't live with. It's also advised not to trick-or-treat indoors, unless you are at your own house with family members.

New York State is also reminding trick-or-treaters that they must wear face coverings or cloth masks with their costumes, saying that most Halloween masks won't be sufficient to meet department of health guidelines. The department of health recommends seeing if you can incorporate your face covering into your costume.

For those who plan on giving out candy, the department of health advises they should avoid direct contact with trick-or-treaters. New York State recommends people should hand out treats outside, saying its best to set up a station with individually bagged or packaged treats for kids to take. If setting up a grab-and-go station, the department of health says it's best to place it six feet from your front door.

The New York State Department of Health says you should not trick-or-treat or leave out candy if you are sick, live with someone who is sick, have been exposed to someone known to have COVID-19 in the last 14 days, are under isolation or quarantine, or have traveled either internationally or to a state affected by the New York State Travel Advisory in the last 14 days. 

Also, do not host or attend a party or any type of gathering or event if it is over the mass gathering limits set for your area. This applies to both indoor and outdoor events. If you do go to an event and see a large crowd not social distancing or people not wearing face coverings, you should leave. 

Looking for new ways to celebrate the holiday? New York State has a few suggestions.

The New York State Department of Health recommends, "Decorating your house or apartment, decorating and carving pumpkins, playing Halloween-themed games, watching spooky movies, and trick-or-treating through your house or in a backyard scavenger hunt are all fun and healthy ways to celebrate during this time."

Here are some other suggestions about how to celebrate the holiday safely:

  • Organize a virtual Halloween costume party with costumes and games
  • Have a neighborhood car parade where families can show off their costumes while staying socially distanced and remaining in their cars
  • In cities or apartment buildings, communities can come together to trick-or-treat around the block or other outdoor spaces so kids and families aren’t tempted to trick-or-treat inside – building residents and businesses can contribute treats that are individually wrapped and placed on a table(s) outside of the front door of the building, or in the other outdoor space for grab and go trick-or-treating
  • Consider non-candy Halloween treats such as spooky or glittery stickers, magnets, temporary tattoos, pencils/erasers, bookmarks, glow sticks, or mini notepads
  • Create a home or neighborhood scavenger hunt where parents or guardians give their kids candy when they find each “clue”
  • Have a neighborhood contest for the best decorated house.
  • Carve and decorate pumpkins at home – try some new creative ideas and have a family contest
  • Play Halloween-themed games with members of your household
  • Watch spooky movies
  • Trick-or-treat room to room in your home

Don't forget to wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer before, during, and after any Halloween activities.

You can view New York State's full Halloween guidance below: