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Keeping safe for Halloween during COVID-19 pandemic

Pima County recommends health-conscious ways to celebrate holiday

This Halloween, door-to-door trick-or-treating will be closed off because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the Pima County Health Department assures families there are health-conscious and safe ways to celebrate.

To reduce contact, health officials suggest avoiding Halloween parties and festivals, haunted houses, and not treat-or-treating or taking part in “trunk or treat” events. The close person-to-person contacts during these activities increase the risk of exposure even if masks are involved. These activities also present difficulties in maintaining social distancing.

“The entire 2020 holiday season will look different this year,” said Dr. Theresa Cullen, director of the Health Department. “I encourage everyone to have fun, but do so safely. Regardless of how you choose to celebrate Halloween, it is important to continue to wear facemasks, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer, and follow physical distancing.”

COVID-19 continues to circulate in Pima County. Just Wednesday, 259 new cases of infected patients were reported here — among 1,044 new cases across the state, with 14 new deaths from coronavirus infections reported in Arizona.

But with these guidelines, festive fun can still be had for families. Virtual events such as Halloween parties and costume contests are highly encouraged.

But, if kids want to venture outside their living room in their costume, the Health Department indicates that car parades that comply with public health guidelines can also be safe.

This includes drive-by contests and events – such as socially-distanced costume contests and pumpkin carving, drive-through events where individuals remain in their vehicles and drive through an area with Halloween displays, and drive-in events where individuals can receive a treat bag – limited to commercially packaged, non-perishable treats – or a take-away item from an organizer with appropriate PPE while the participants remain in their vehicles.

But families must remember that their health should be prioritized at all times during these festivities. When planning to hand candy out, treats should be given outdoors in open, uncrowded spaces and people should avoid direct contact with trick-or-treaters by setting up a table or station with pre-packaged treats for kids to take. 

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Adults should bring hand sanitizer and take “clean hand” breaks for children and adults. Take your time and be mindful of keeping six feet of distance from others. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before eating any treats, officials said.

For the trick-or-treaters, make a cloth mask part of their costume. Costume masks are not a suitable substitute for a cloth mask. Do not wear a costume mask that covers the mouth or nose over a cloth mask.

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A story display in Burbank, Calif., with a COVID-19 theme.