Prince William Health Officials Provide Guidance to Celebrate a Safe Halloween

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Provided by Prince William County

On a typical Halloween, parents and children enjoy the seasonal ritual of trick-or-treating. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Halloween will be different this year than in years past. To encourage the safety, health and well-being of residents, Prince William Health District officials recommend that families not participate in traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating or other activities that risk transmission of COVID-19.

According to Prince William Health District Director Dr. Alison Ansher, “We understand that Halloween is usually a joyous time when families venture out to participate in a variety of fun fall activities. After being stuck indoors for months, cabin fever may really be getting to residents, and they may want to venture out. However, we are still in the midst of a pandemic. It is important that everyone exercise prudence and caution. This will help us all stay healthy and well.”

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have created a list of typical Halloween activities and categorized them based on the risk of transmission of COVID-19. The County encourages residents to review the list to determine which activities are most suitable for their households to celebrate Halloween. Additional details are available from the VDH.

Lowest Risk

  • 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 items 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 in your home.
  • 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

  • Participating in trick-or-treating with distancing strategies in place (e.g. treat-givers provide individually wrapped goodie bags 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 seconds before and after preparing the bags.
  • Stopping only at homes where individuals are wearing masks, and it is easy to maintain six feet of distance between the host and other trick-or-treaters.
  • Attending a small, outside event such as trunk-or-treat, where social distancing can be maintained and everyone is wearing a mask.
  • Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards, where wearing masks is encouraged and enforced, and people are able to maintain at least six feet of physical distance.

Highest Risk

  • Trick-or-treating at a large number of homes or visiting multiple neighborhoods where residents go door-to-door.
  • Trick-or-treating at homes where individuals are not wearing a mask, and where six feet of physical distance is not maintained between individuals.
  • Attending parties or events that may become crowded and social distancing is difficult to maintain.
  • Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household.
  • Going to indoor haunted houses where people may be crowded together and screaming.

Above all, whether residents participate in any type of Halloween activities or simply focus on continuing to live their daily lives, the County wants to remind everyone of the importance of wearing a face mask, practicing social distancing and frequent handwashing. Visit the County’s COVID-19 site to learn more about the coronavirus.


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