Covid-19 Story Tip: Celebrating Halloween Safely


October is the time of year when jack-o’-lanterns light up front porches, fake spider webs adorn trees and shrubbery, and ghosts, princesses and other characters seek out treats on Halloween night. But this year, the holiday known for spooky ghouls, wicked witches and lots of candy will likely look different. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released guidelines placing Halloween-related activities into three categories: lower risk, moderate risk and higher risk. Aaron Milstone, M.D., M.H.S., professor of pediatrics and pediatric infectious diseases specialist at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, has tips on how families can celebrate Halloween safely this year.

“Even though Halloween will be different from previous years, different can still be fun,” Milstone says. “People can be creative about ways for kids to have fun.”

Milstone says traditional trick-or-treating — children going door-to-door and neighbors handing out candy — or a crowded trunk-or-treat event involve more risk this year. A safer alternative to children grabbing from a bowl of treats might be for neighbors to leave small, individual bags of candy on tables in their front yard for children to easily pick up while remaining safely distanced. Families should check trick-or-treating guidelines or recommendations in their local communities.

Other less risky ways to celebrate include having a Halloween-themed scavenger hunt around your yard or home, carving pumpkins with the family, decorating your house and going pumpkin or apple picking at an orchard. Attending indoor Halloween parties and visiting indoor haunted houses are among the highest risk activities.

No matter how a family celebrates, Milestone recommends that everyone wear face coverings, properly physical distance from others (at least 6 feet) and practice regular hand-washing. Bringing hand sanitizer wherever you go is also a good habit.

“Kids need something to look forward to, so don’t write off Halloween — be creative to keep kids safe and happy,” Milstone says.

Milstone is available for media interviews to discuss recommendations for safely celebrating Halloween.