Oct. 6, 2020 – With COVID-19 still present in the community as Halloween approaches, official trick-or-treating hours will be earlier this year and public health officials are offering guidelines and recommendations on how to safely celebrate the holiday this year.
Official trick-or-treating hours will be 1 to 5:30 p.m. on Sat., Oct. 31. The earlier hours are intended to make it easier for trick-or-treaters to see signs homeowners may post to make clear which homes are offering candy and which ones have opted out this year.
“Traditional Halloween activities are not without risks during this worldwide pandemic,” said Oak Park Public Health Director Mike Charley. “But if we remain vigilant about following public health guidelines and exercise good judgment, the risks of traditional Halloween activities like trick-or-treating can be lessened."
Both the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have published guidelines to help families make decisions about how they will celebrate Halloween this year. The guidelines share a common theme – reducing close contact with those outside of a person's household, which officials say is essential to reducing the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19.
Residents are encouraged to celebrate with lower-risk activities, such as pumpkin carving with members of their own household or outdoors at a safe distance with friends. Virtual costume parties, holiday decorating and outdoor Halloween movie nights are other recommended options.
To help families celebrate safely, the Oak Park Health Department is reminding families of the importance of continuing to follow public health guidelines to protect their health and the health of others.
Charley recommends the following guidelines for trick-or-treaters:
- Wear a cloth mask that covers your nose and mouth – a costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth face covering
- Maintain at least a six-foot distance from trick-or-treaters outside of your household
- Wash your hands before and after trick-or-treating
- Bring hand sanitizer to use before, during and after trick or treating
- Limit the number of houses you visit
- Trick or treat only during permitted hours
- Don’t knock on doors with signs indicating a home is not participating this year
- Stay home if you're sick or if you may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19
Households offering treats are urged to adhere to certain guidelines as well to keep themselves and others safe, according to Charley, including the following:
- Place individual goodie bags in a designated location, such as on a porch, front yard or stoop for trick-or-treaters to pick up and go while continuing to social distance
- Do not to place candy in communal bowls, which could encourage congregating and contact with others
- Those preparing goodie bags should wash their hands before and after preparing bags
Households not participating in trick-or-treating are encouraged to post a sign on their door to discourage unwanted visits. Click here to download a printable sign…
Public health officials are asking trick-or-treaters to respect that not everyone is comfortable participating in Halloween festivities, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Costumes that allow cloth face coverings and hand hygiene to be performed regularly are recommended. A costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth face covering, and should not be worn over a face covering. A Halloween-themed cloth face covering rather than a costume mask is a good choice, officials say.
Residents are also advised to avoid masks and costumes that limit or obstruct visibility. While official trick-or-treating hours are set to end before dark, those out after sundown should fasten costumes with reflective tape and consider carrying a glow stick.
Those with underlying health conditions are strongly encouraged to stay home during Halloween festivities and gatherings. In addition, residents are encouraged to…
- Consider hosting gatherings outdoors
- Avoid indoor parties
- Keep guests to a minimum – state public health guidelines limit gatherings to no more than 50 people
- Require guests to wear a face covering that covers their nose and mouth when at least a six-foot distance from others cannot be maintained
- Tell guests to stay home if they are sick
These guidelines and recommendations are subject to change based on the latest public health data, Charley said. If local COVID-19 data changes significantly over the next few weeks, guidelines may be revised.
For more information about Halloween in Oak Park, visit www.oak-park.us/halloween.
For the latest information on COVID-19 in Oak Park, visit www.oak-park.us/covid19.