Arlington, VA

In a year that has been more trick than treat, traditional Halloween activities may be next on the chopping block.

Arlington County has not yet issued an official directive for Halloween this year. However, Arlington’s Public Health Director Dr. Reuben Varghese is cautioning against participation in trick-or-treating or other traditional Halloween activities due to the pandemic.

In a virtual COVID-19 town hall on Friday, Varghese expressed optimism about Halloween, under the right circumstances. He said revelers should observe six-foot distances between people or groups, and individuals who show any signs of illness should not be out and about.

“Those are going to be some of the things that parents are still going to have to think about,” Varghese said. “I think there are ways to do it, but it’s going to probably be on a more limited scale and making sure that people [know] what’s more important, the candy or the costuming.”

On Tuesday, the CDC and the VDH released guideline for participating in Halloween activities this year. Both listed high, moderate and low-risk activities in the guidelines while reminding everyone to wear a mask or cloth face covering, and to practice social distancing and proper hand washing.

The high-risk activities the CDC and VDH suggest to avoid include door to door trick-or-treating, where treats are handed out, or attending crowded events or parties, such as indoor costume parties or indoor haunted houses. Both also advise against going on hayrides or tractor rides with people outside of your household.

The CDC and VDH also offer a variety of low-risk activity ideas that includes carving or decorating pumpkins with family or at a distance with neighbors or friends, decorating your house, and virtual costume contests.

“The best way to avoid becoming infected is to avoid being exposed to the virus altogether,” VDH said. “This is particularly important for people at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.”

In Alexandria, trick-or-treating will be allowed, as the city is not regulating the holiday, Washingtonian reported last week. Arlington County similarly does not set official trick-or-treating times nor has it, in the past, set any Halloween-specific regulations.

Nationally, a number of cities and states — like ChicagoNew York, and Arkansas — have said they will not cancel Halloween festivities outright, though many are encouraging revelers to follow existing safety guidelines.

Los Angeles made headlines at the beginning of the month for initially banning trick-or-treating and other activities. However, public health officials reversed course a day later and merely recommended canceling trick-or-treating, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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