Is it Safe to ‘Trick or Treat’ This Halloween?

The CDC and a Health Expert Offer Important Advice to Parents on Safeguarding Their Children’s Health
Published on Oct 19, 2021

Children playing in the park

You may see more ghosts, goblins and witches walking down neighborhood streets this Halloween as trick-or-treating is expected to make a return.

However, many parents are rightfully asking whether it’ll be safe for their kids to ‘Trick or Treat’ this year as COVID-19 continues to dominate the news.

The answer is a conditional yes if certain precautions are taken, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a children’s health expert.

“It’s a mixed bag,” said Dr. Daisy Dodd, a pediatric infectious disease specialist with Kaiser Permanente Southern California. “Your children are likely to be safer if certain precautions are taken this Halloween. But, if you’re reluctant, you may want to consider something a little bit different to ensure a more controlled environment for your children without taking away the fun.”

According to the CDC, it should be OK for children to trick-or-treat on Halloween as long as they are outdoors, socially distanced and in small groups. Other precautions include:

• Avoiding direct contact with trick-or-treaters and people giving out candy.
• Making sure your child wears a cloth mask that’s not part of his/her costume.
• A costume mask is NOT a substitute for a cloth mask. Also, children should not wear a costume mask over a cloth mask, as that can make breathing more difficult.
• Staying at least six feet away from others who do not live with you.

Dr. Dodd noted because children less than age 12 cannot currently be vaccinated against COVID-19, parents may want to consider alternatives to traditional ‘Trick or Treating’ in the neighborhood, where younger kids are likely to interact with other children and adults.

“My message is if at all possible, keep it within the family, close friends or relatives, and preferably outdoors, including at a park,” Dr. Dodd noted. “That way, you have a more controlled environment where transmission of the virus is more limited. You know who’s coming rather than going door to door.”

If your children do go out Trick or Treating, it’s advisable that they wear gloves and not eat any candy while walking around, Dr. Dodd continued. Once at home, parents should spread all candy on a table and inspect it by making sure it is well-wrapped and nothing is open. Children should then remove their gloves, wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and then enjoy the sweet treats.

There are many other alternatives to trick-or-treating for those families who are still not comfortable with the idea of canvassing neighborhoods. A family pumpkin-carving contest, a costumed movie night or making a Halloween scavenger hunt in your own backyard can be just as fun.

“It’s understandable that for many children, Halloween is a special day of fun and dress-up,” Dr. Dodd said. “With good planning and precautionary measures, parents can have good peace-of-mind knowing their kids will be safe on this special day.”

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