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CDPHE Advises Getting Creative With Tricks And Treats This Halloween

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Officials advise getting creative with celebrations and candy dispensing this Halloween.

Halloween is still three weeks away, but the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is advising people to start making their holiday preparations now.

“The next two weeks is going to be particularly important to help us identify what kind of a Halloween celebration we’ll have,” said chief medical officer Dr. Eric France. “So remember to follow all of our basics about washing hands, keeping distance in particular over these next two weeks, so that we don’t find ourselves during a bad phase of the COVID pandemic by the end of this month.”

Officials say how well people are currently following social distancing and mask protocols will be key to a happy holiday.

“Of course, we want to focus on doing as many activities as outdoors as possible,” France said. “Pumpkin patches, corn mazes - we know how to do these in a safe way. Haunted houses might need to be transformed into haunted ‘forests,’ or other outdoor events, when possible.”

Some haunted houses are open for business this season with new protocols that prohibit any contact between “scarers” and patrons, and enforce social distancing as well as capacity limits.

As for trick or treating, small, outside gatherings with family, nearby neighbors or cohorts is best, said Dr. Chris Nyquist, pediatric infectious diseases specialist and medical director of infection prevention and control at Children’s Hospital Colorado.

“That’s why the suggestion for a safer way to do door-to-door trick or treating is within your neighborhood block or your little bubble of friends and families that you have, instead of the unknown door,” Nyquist said. “Kids trying to get as much candy as possible through the entire neighborhood is a challenge for lots of exposure, potentially close exposure, to people that you don’t know.”

Nyquist recommended trick-or-treating close to home and creative candy delivery methods, such as trunk-or-treating and setting out bags of candy that kids can pick up rather than reaching into a bucket.

“(It’s important to focus) on how you can make this a fun, positive experience while we live through the pandemic and still enjoy this holiday and really make this one to remember,” she said.

France also reminded trick or treaters not to go out “half-masked” by relying on traditional Halloween masks for protection.

"Be sure to choose masks with multiple layers of cloth and ones that cover your nose and mouth," he said.

During a recent press conference, Governor Jared Polis stressed the importance of avoiding any large groups to prevent large-scale outbreaks.

“So it’s one or two or three people, not 50 or 100 people,” Polis said.

State epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy noted that following the Fourth of July and Labor Day holidays, the state saw an increase in positive cases.

“I think it’s too soon to know what level of impact we might see on overall disease transmission due to holiday activities,” Herlihy said. “But of course, that’s part of the reason that we are sharing this guidance.”

CDPHE officials gave a variety of celebration options based on a community’s position on the COVID-19 dial:

Stay-at-Home

Plan a virtual costume party, pumpkin carving-contest or scary movie night.

Create a virtual haunted house by setting it up in your own home, and virtually guiding people through it.

Safer-at-Home: Level 3

Organize a neighborhood costume parade with predetermined routes marked to maintain safe distances between participants.

Organize a drive-by “spooky” yard decorating contest.

Safer-at-Home: Level 2

Host a neighborhood mask decorating party, with guests limited to 10.

Go to an open-air, one-way, walk-through haunted “house,” pumpkin patch or corn maze.

Safer-at-Home: Level 1

Plan a small get together, ideally outdoors, with family and close friends; limit to 25 guests.

Protect-our-Neighbors

Activities, ideally outside, that limit the number of guests according to local guidance.