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How to Have a Boo-tifully Safe Halloween

By Haley Nicholson | Oct. 28, 2020 | State Legislatures Magazine

Getting creative with holiday celebrations has been yet another adjustment courtesy of the pandemic.

As Halloween approaches, complete with a rare blue full moon, a group of private partners has launched halloween2020.org. The site breaks down how to safely celebrate while minding participants’ community needs and health officials’ social distancing recommendations.

Don’t worry, the breakdown will have you celebrating in less time than it takes a mummy to decompose.

The site has three steps and color-coded categories to help little ghouls and vampires determine the safest way to celebrate the Halloween spirit. The three steps are:

  • First refer to the site’s map to see current COVID risk in your county.
  • Scroll down and click on the tab corresponding to your county’s color—green, yellow, orange or red, depending on the level of risk.
  • Choose from several ways to safely celebrate, based on your county’s color code.

Green zone activities can include visiting official trick-or-treat safehouses, a garage trick or treat that gives more room to roam (be wary of frightful decorations, though), or playing “trunk-or-treat,” where Halloween-goers can find decked-out trunks filled with goods.

Activities in a yellow zone include “yeeting” the treats, where homeowners toss out treats from 6 feet away to costumed travelers walking safely on sidewalks; organizing a neighborhood parade with a predetermined route marked with distances between participants and sanitizing stations; throwing a socially distanced pet parade where furry friends can be a part of the fun (because pets love costumes); and distributing “boo bags” that neighbors have filled with fun treats and delivered anonymously to someone’s doorstep.

Orange zone communities can arrange a trick-or-treat drive-by, where friends and family can ride over for a visit and honk or text upon arrival, leaving treats before they go, or channel that wolverine spirit and throw a neighborhood candy hunt complete with treasure map to point to clues to find treats while respecting social distancing guidelines.

Red zone celebrations include watching a Halloween movie classic via a streaming service like Netflix whose free extension lets you start and pause movies with friends and family; using #halloweenporchpics to show off your Halloween haunts and costumes; setting up family candy stations inside and outside the house; channeling your competitive creative spirit with a family costume challenge on TikTok and flashing from smallest to largest family member wearing the same costume; and trick-or-treating for UNICEF by using its platform to make lifesaving donations.

No matter the style of celebration, don’t forget to pair any color zone with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on social distancing, including: following the guidance from local public health authorities for where you live, limiting contact by staying at least 6 feet away from others not from your household, wearing a mask that goes over your nose and mouth, avoiding crowded places and gatherings where it could be hard to stay at least 6 feet away from others, and staying home if you are not feeling well.

Halloween will look different this year, but the spirit can be just as fun and spooky no matter your community.

Haley Nicholson is senior policy director, health, in NCSL’s State-Federal Program.