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Published on October 19, 2020

Avera Advises CDC Guidelines for Safe Halloween Celebrations

Avera reminds everyone to take practical steps so that Halloween 2020 is fun – but safe in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We hope everyone will enjoy the celebration that comes with this time of year, but do so applying the guidelines that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend,” said family medicine physician Chad Thury, DO, MBA, who serves as Medical Director of Avera Medical Group Quality and Innovation. “Crowded costume parties and door-to-door trick-or-treating activities are high risk. Alternatives can still be enjoyable without creating unsafe situations or exposing more people to coronavirus.”

Other high-risk activities that should be avoided include:

  • Trunk-or-treat events where cars line up and distribute candy or treats in parking lots
  • Indoor haunted houses where people may be crowded and screaming
  • Hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household
  • Traveling to a rural fall festival outside the area in which you live

“Lower-risk activities, such as carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household or outside at a safe distance with neighbors or friends should be considered this year as alternatives,” Thury said. “The CDC also recommends other fun-but-safe things, such as decorating your house or Halloween scavenger hunts.”

Virtual Halloween costume contests, Halloween movie nights with people you live with or in-home scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat searches are other alternatives that are safer.

A moderate risk activity is one-way trick-or-treating where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go while continuing to social distance. If you are preparing goodie bags, make sure to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 second before and after preparing the bags.

Small-group, outdoor, open-air costume parades or parties, with masks and proper distancing, are other moderate risk activities.

“We want to ensure people realize costume masks are not a substitute for cloth or disposable masks,” Thury added. “Don’t wear costume masks over a protective masks because it can be dangerous if together they make it hard to breathe.”

Other holiday-themed activities like going to open-air, walk-through “haunted forest” attractions are moderately risky, but appropriate mask use (by everyone) and social distancing can help reduce the threat. Visits to orchards or pumpkin patches are also reasonably safe when masks and hand hygiene are widespread.

“The greater the distance between people, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus,” said Thury. “The CDC guidelines are important – we recommend them all in order to avoid possible exposure and transmission of COVID-19. Halloween is the first of the fall and winter holidays, so we can start applying these procedures and remain safe, with common sense and patience.”

Learn more about ways to protect yourself and your loved ones at


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