CDC Says Halloween Isn’t Cancelled – Just Modified – This Year

October 2, 2020 by Sara Wilkerson
Halloween candy and decorations are displayed at a store, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, in Freeport, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released guidelines for fall holiday celebrations. As part of the recommendations, the CDC ranked traditional celebratory activities for Halloween and other fall holidays to help Americans celebrate the autumn season safely amid the ongoing pandemic. 

As a preface, the CDC states that, “These considerations are meant to supplement—not replace—any state, local, territorial, or tribal health and safety laws, rules, and regulations with which holiday gatherings must comply. 

“When planning to host a holiday celebration, you should assess current COVID-19 levels in your community to determine whether to postpone, cancel, or limit the number of attendees,” said the CDC. 

For Halloween, the CDC advises against traditional trick-or-treating, attending crowded costume parties, and going to haunted houses and fall festivals outside of people’s communities due to their risk of spreading COVID-19. 

Additionally, the agency says that to help curtail the coronavirus, cloth masks should be worn as a precaution as opposed to traditional Halloween costume masks. 

According to the CDC’s Halloween guidelines, “Do not use a costume mask (such as for Halloween) as a substitute for a cloth mask unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers your mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around your face.” 

Officials also advise against wearing both a cloth mask and a costume mask since doing so would make it harder for the wearer to breathe. Rather, the CDC suggests wearing a Halloween themed cloth mask instead. 

While traditional norms are set on pause this year, the CDC did provide alternative methods of celebrating All Hallows’ Eve. 

For those seeking to celebrate at home with family, activities such as pumpkin carving, virtual costume contests, and Halloween movie nights are among those that pose the lowest risk of exposure. 

For people wanting to celebrate with others in public areas, outdoor activities such as costume parades and parties are permissible so long as attendees adhere to social distancing guidelines. 

Additionally, the CDC suggested some one-way activities where organizers can direct socially distant foot traffic for event attendees. 

One-way trick-or-treating can take place in neighborhoods at the end of people’s driveways or yards. Haunted forest walks can also take place with distances of more than 6 feet between participants. 

“The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus,” says the CDC on the matter. 

To aid in the country’s Halloween festivities, the Halloween and Costume Association spearheaded a new initiative called Halloween 2020 using the CDC’s guidelines 

On the initiative’s website, the HCA features a COVID-19 Risk Levels Dashboard created by the Harvard Global Health Institute. The dashboard organizes risk levels by state and county in color-coded risk zones. Once website visitors learn more about their local COVID-19 risk the site recommends Halloween activities for each color zone. 

The initiative also provides community resources for cities and local communities looking to join in the HCA’s efforts of helping families celebrate safely. 

Kevin Johnson, the chairman of the Halloween and Costume Association said in a press statement, “We are on a mission to ensure the safest Halloween celebration possible this year and want to make sure families and communities have access to the best, up-to-date guidance that prioritizes community safety. 

“The color-coded map developed by the Harvard Global Health Institute, along with our guidelines and additional website resources, can help ensure families find fun, yet safe ways to celebrate this season,” Johnson added. 

The HCA is not alone in its efforts of bringing Halloween safely to the masses. The Hershey Company, the National Retail Foundation, UNICEF, Spirit,, the National Confectioners Association and others have all partnered together with the HCA this year. 

“Halloween is more important than ever this year as we navigate the new normal together and are seeking opportunities to celebrate safely,” said Chuck Raup, president of the Hershey Company, in a statement. 

“We’re inspired by the public-private partnerships and groups coming together that all have a shared value of celebrating Halloween safely,” Raup added.

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