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The CDC Recommends You Don't Go Trick-or-Treating This Year

Yes, it's a bummer. But it's the right thing to do.

Trick or Treating Guidelines CDC
Jeenah Moon/Getty Images

For some people, the pandemic can seem distant based on their routines or location. But Halloween, a time when we gather with neighbors and friends, is a good time to remember that we're all in this tough time together. The actions taken by each individual deeply impacts the community. 

It's with that public safety in mind that the CDC has issued recommendations about which Halloween activities carry the highest risk for spreading COVID-19. Importantly, the CDC has labeled traditional trick-or-treating a high-risk activity. The CDC advises that revelers avoid trick-or-treating to prevent the continued spread of coronavirus. 

That's the most notable Halloween activity the CDC says people should avoid, but it's not the only one. Here are the other high-risk activities listed by the Center.

  • Having trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots
  • Attending crowded costume parties held indoors
  • Going to an indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming
  • Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household
  • Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgement and increase risky behaviors
  • Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19
These are the Center's moderate-risk activities. 
  • Participating in one-way trick-or-treating where individually wrapped goodie bags are 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)
  • Having a small group, outdoor, open-air costume parade where people are distanced more than 6 feet apart
  • Attending a costume party held outdoors where protective masks are used and people can remain more than 6 feet apart
  • A costume mask (such as for Halloween) is not a substitute for a cloth mask. A costume mask should not be used unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around the face.
  • Do not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.
  • Going to an open-air, one-way, walk-through haunted forest where appropriate mask use is enforced, and people can remain more than 6 feet apart
  • If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.
  • Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, wearing masks is encouraged or enforced, and people are able to maintain social distancing
  • Having an outdoor Halloween movie night with local family friends with people spaced at least 6 feet apart
The guidance certainly makes for a different Halloween and, frankly, one bereft of some of the holiday's best activities. But the reality is that wearing a mask and listening to experts will help ensure that you and others are able to enjoy this year and all your favorite activities next year.

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Dustin Nelson is a Senior Staff Writer at Thrillist. Follow him @dlukenelson. 

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