COVID-19 plays trick on this year's Halloween

Rehoboth, Dewey still allow treats but with restrictions
October 15, 2020

This year's Halloween will look a lot different as COVID-19 remains a concern, but the state has issued guidance for those who still want to celebrate the tradition. So far, Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach are allowing traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating, but ask those participating to practice social distancing and to wear face coverings. Rehoboth Beach also asked that treats are passed out using contactless means, and Dewey Beach asked those who participate in trick-or-treating to respect residents who do not participate.

Dewey Beach is not holding its annual Sea Witch Trick-or-Treat event, and none of the three Tanger Outlet strip malls on Route 1 are holding annual Halloween events.

Lewes Mayor Ted Becker said the city will not endorse trick-or-treat activities this year to ensure safety of all residents and visitors. He also notes that the annual trunk or treat event at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church is canceled. 

State guidance

Rehoboth Beach is moving forward with its trick-or-treating using guidance provided by the Division of Public Health. Under that guidance, DPH categorized activities by risk – low, moderate and high risk. While many traditional Halloween activities can be high-risk for spreading viruses, DPH Director Karyl Rattay said Delawareans can reduce that risk by organizing and participating in fun, low- or moderate-risk alternatives.

“We know this is typically a fun time of year for communities and families, and we absolutely want that fun to continue,” Rattay said. “But it is more important than ever that we do so safely and in a way that does not further increase the risk of virus transmission for ourselves, our families, and our neighbors. We can still enjoy a happy and healthy Halloween this year even if it looks a little different from previous years.”

Traditional trick-or-treating poses risk because of the large number of hands reaching into the candy bowls. Those who participate in door-to-door activities should make sure face coverings are worn – most Halloween masks are not protective enough to be considered face coverings, Rattay said.

To provide treats without direct contact, she said, place individual treat portions on your porch and stay at least six feet away from everyone. Make sure to sanitize your hands between treat handling, she said.

Large gatherings are discouraged, and any Halloween-related indoor or outdoor activities, such as a haunted house, must have DPH approval if more than 250 people are expected.

Low-risk activities

Activities that can be done at home with members of your household will pose less risk than traditional trick-or-treating. Low-risk activities include:

• Pumpkin carving and decorating your home.

• Hosting a virtual costume contest, Halloween get-together or drive-by decoration viewing with friends and neighbors.

• Having a Halloween movie marathon.

• Having a scavenger hunt (think Easter Egg hunt) in and around your home rather than going house to house.

• Host open-air, socially distant gatherings, but don’t bob for apples. 

• Find a farm to pick your own pumpkins or apples. Be sure to frequently sanitize, wear a face covering, and maintain six-feet social distancing from individuals who don’t reside in your own household. If visiting a farm, store or stand, make sure it is one that is requiring everyone kindergarten age and up to wear face coverings and is practicing social distancing. 

• Attend trunk-or-treat events with proper social distancing and face covering requirements in place along with other precautions.

Rattay said Delawareans should avoid activities where face coverings and other requirements are not enforced, and traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating in which treats are directly handed out to each child.

In addition, she said, all indoor activities with people outside of one's household should be avoided, including indoor parties such as costume parties.

Individuals who have recently tested positive for COVID-19 and who are currently isolating from others, as well as those individuals who have recently been exposed to a person with COVID-19, should not participate in any in-person Halloween festivities, Rattay said.

Chris Flood, Ellen Driscoll, Nick Roth and Ryan Mavity contributed to this article.

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