In New Halloween Guidelines, the CDC Warns Against Traditional Trick-or-Treating

updated Feb 24, 2021
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Credit: Photo: Sean Locke/Stocksy

All the holidays and celebrations that define the next few months are going to look a little different this year. We will not be gathering with friends and family from across the country for turkey, no one will be caroling in large groups of unrelated people, and we certainly won’t be kissing strangers and blowing heavily into noisemakers, no matter how badly we want to say good riddance to 2020 in the most celebratory way possible. But Halloween seems like a tougher conundrum. Pumpkin patches are outside, corn mazes leave plenty of space for social distancing, and hey, we’ve all already got masks on!

Unfortunately the CDC has some bad news for you this year: In guidance released this week, the agency warned ghouls and ghosts around the country that they do not recommend going trick-or-treating during the coronavirus pandemic. Also, they do not approve of double-duty for your masks, making it clear that costume masks are not a substitute for a cloth mask, and that you should not wear a costume mask over your protective cloth mask. 

Instead, the CDC recommends a few other activities for Halloween this year, like carving pumpkins inside with family or outside and distanced with friends, decorating your house, virtual costume contests, and Halloween movie night. They also have an excellent suggestion to do a Halloween scavenger hunt by giving kids lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house.

But don’t knock on those doors: The CDC considers traditional trick-or-treating to be a high-risk activity, as is going to haunted houses or anywhere else crowded with people screaming. If you want to work with your neighbors to make a good alternative, they offer a suggestion of only “moderate” risk: one-way trick-or-treating: “Individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go while continuing to social distance.”