Haunted Houses Prohibited Under Illinois' New Halloween Guidance, but State Offers Alternative Ideas

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Haunted houses are a big part of Halloween fun in many places across the state of Illinois, but according to new guidance issued by the Illinois Department of Public Health, they are still prohibited under the rules of Phase Four of the “Restore Illinois” plan.

According to those new guidelines, haunted houses are prohibited because of the danger of the virus spreading in enclosed spaces, but the state did make other suggestions for those still wanting to capture the thrills and frights of a haunted house in a more socially-distanced setting.

“Instead consider open-air, one-way haunted forests or haunted walks where social distancing of 6 feet or greater and appropriate masking is enforced,” the state guidance read, in part. “If screaming is anticipated, even greater social distancing is advised to lower the risk of spreading respiratory viruses.”

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike were both asked about haunted houses during their press availability on Wednesday, with Pritzker saying that the decision not to allow haunted houses to open was made due to recommendations made by infectious disease experts.

 “Haunted houses tend to be very enclosed, with not a lot of open space,” Pritzker said. “As a result, the viral load can get high very quickly in a space like that. So that’s why doctors chose to act as they did with regard to haunted houses.”

Some communities already are using new techniques to allow residents to get a good scare this Halloween. In suburban Elgin, an attraction called “Terror in the Timbers” will allow residents to experience a drive-through haunted ride.

“Guests can expect the unexpected,” organizer Dan Barrie said. “They’ll experience the same type of scare they’d get with any other big-time haunted house – but within the confines and safety of their vehicle.”

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