How to Safely Enjoy Halloween

Dear Rich Lifer,

I think we can agree it has been a hard and downright scary year.

So with Halloween fast approaching this weekend, many are wondering if it’s safe to trade coronavirus fears for some spooky fun instead.

According to experts, the hauntings may continue… but caution must be maintained. 

This is great news for kids and the economy, as the October 31 celebration has become a billion-dollar industry, and one that we cannot afford to miss out on this year. 

Parents, children, and Americans of all ages should know that while Halloween is far from canceled this year, we can all expect things to look a little different. 

However, there are still plenty of ways to have fun and enjoy the holiday.

Today we will take a look at the updated Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines on keeping Halloween both safe and enjoyable. 

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Safe Activities 

The CDC guidelines for Halloween seem to be consistent with their advice throughout the pandemic: avoid large crowds, avoid indoor activities, and wear a face covering.

Three categories of activities have been listed by the CDC — high risk activities, moderate risk activities, and low risk activities. 

Here are a few of the low risk activities from the CDC’s website:

  • Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household, or outside at a safe distance with neighbors or friends, and displaying them
  • Decorating your house, apartment, or living space
  • Doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance. (Or have a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home, rather than going house to house.)
  • Having a virtual Halloween costume contest
  • Having a Halloween movie night with people you live with

If you are looking for a bit more excitement, here are some of the moderate risk activities on the CDC’s website. These are just a few ideas so if you want more, check out the Official Activity List.  

  • Participating in one-way trick-or-treating, where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go while continuing to social distance (such as at the end of a driveway or the edge of a yard)
  • Attending a costume party held outdoors or an open-air parade where protective masks are used, and people can remain more than 6 feet apart – remember a costume mask is not the same as a cloth mask, always make sure you have your cloth mask
  • Visiting pumpkin patches (with masks and proper social distancing) or orchards where people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples
  • Having an outdoor Halloween movie night with local family and friends with people spaced at least 6 feet apart — If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.

Risky Activities To Avoid 

One of the riskiest activities is traditional, door-to-door trick or treating. 

Dr. Tista Ghosh, an epidemiologist and senior medical director at Grand Rounds (a digital healthcare company in San Francisco) noted that the concern with trick-or-treating stemmed from its inherent face-to-face interaction.

Adults who typically accompany children trick-or-treating are at the most risk in these situations, especially if they are older or have underlying medical conditions. 

Dr. David Hirschwerk, an infectious diseases attending physician at Northwell Health system, also seconded the CDC’s guidelines to avoid large, indoor gathering, stressing, “this is an infection that really is about the air that we breathe and about making sure that we’re separated from each other and that we’re not spending too much time together indoors.

The CDC also lists traveling to rural fall festivals – if you are coming from a place with high COVID-19 rates – as a high risk activity. 

Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said avoiding these types of activities outside your community is important because, “Even though a mask and distancing mitigate risk, such events can generate superspreaders, placing even more people and families with older persons at risk.”

Finally, the CDC listed drinking as a risky activity due to the fact that alcohol can impair judgment and make you more likely to attempt risky things. 

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Why Normalcy Is Important  

Only 58% of Americans said they expect to celebrate Halloween this year, down from 68% last year, according to a National Retail Federation poll of more than 7,600 U.S. adults.

However, Dr. Gosh maintains that having a safe, socially distant Halloween is key to maintaining the mental health of children and their parents. 

Canceling Halloween outright, when so much has already been canceled or changed, is definitely not the way to go. 

She states, “I think completely taking away Halloween could be detrimental to some of the mental health issues that kids are facing right now,” and instead cautions people to “balance the risk of whatever activity they’re doing with mental health risks as well, and look for ways to minimize risk rather than reduce risk to zero because that’s just not possible.”

For those worried about the economic effects of a toned-down Halloween this year, don’t fear. Although spending is expected to decrease by 8.3% in 2020, to $8.05 billion, compared to $8.78 billion in 2019, individuals who will participate say they may actually spend up to 6.8% more. 

According to the National Retail Federation, in 2019, the average spend was $86.27, and those who say they’ll celebrate Halloween this year expect to spend an average of $92.12.

We hope these guidelines will help you to have a safe and fun Halloween so that the only scare you can look forward to is one involving a spooky movie marathon! 

To a Richer Life,

The Rich Life Roadmap Team

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