Dog costume contests. Fun food deals. Dia de los Muertos events. Houston offers no shortage of Halloween happenings this weekend. But the City of Houston has a gentle reminder that locals should play it safe due to this utterly scary pandemic.
The Houston Health Department is encouraging residents to forgo traditional trick-or-treating and Halloween gatherings this year. Going door-to-door and attending traditional Halloween events are high-risk activities for spreading COVID-19 during the pandemic, says a press release.
“The City of Houston is not canceling Halloween this year, but we are discouraging people from gathering in large groups. It is important that we keep the COVID-19 numbers moving in the right direction. This requires us to be smarter about how we trick-or-treat,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner, in a statement. “Families and children can still have a ghoulish good time without jeopardizing their health and safety during the pandemic.”
Instead, the city suggests offering individually wrapped goodie bags that are lined up for families to grab and go while maintaining a safe social distance. For safety, the City suggests these bags be set up on a table or blanket at the end of a driveway or at the edge of a yard.
“While the one-way alternative is safer than traditional trick-or-treating, it still comes with a moderate risk of virus transmission,” said Dr. David Persse, chief medical officer for the City of Houston, in the release. “While there isn’t a way to completely eliminate the risk of COVID-19 transmission with any activity, we can take simple steps to reduce it.”
Officials note that haunted houses and other indoor activities are also high risk for COVID-19 transmission. Safer options for Halloween fun include:
- Haunted forests for easier social distancing
- Halloween scavenger hunts or spooky movie nights with household members
- Baking Halloween-themed treats with household members
- Virtual costume parties