Note: Lightfoot's news conference can be watched live in the video player above.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday released eight guidelines for celebrating Halloween safely this year, as well as plans for activities and programming surrounding the holiday, as the coronavirus pandemic continues.
Lightfoot and the city's top health official were expected to detail the guidelines and preview Chicago's plan during a news conference beginning at 1:30 p.m. at City Hall.
The guidelines, according to the city, read as follows:
- Masks aren’t just for trick-or-treaters this year! Everyone—including candy givers—should wear a face covering (multi-layered, covering the mouth and nose, without gaps around the face).
- Leave a light on or hang a Halloweek sign in your window to let others know your house is giving out candy safely.
- Handing out candy? Please socially distance and have hand sanitizer, too.
- Trick or treating? Stay on the move! Less congregating means more houses and more candy.
- Ensure there’s all treats and no tricks. Please don’t reach into candy bowls while trick or treating, and eat candy only at home after washing your hands.
- No Haunted Houses. They are truly spooky and dangerous this year.
- Keep your candy crew small. Trick-or-treating groups should be 6 people or less.
- No house parties large or small this year.
“This year more than ever it is important to celebrate Halloween safely and responsibly,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “With these guidelines we are making sure that children and adults that want to enjoy Halloween can do so without putting themselves or their community at risk.”
The city will host "Halloweek" activities like safe trick-or-treating and Halloween-themed programs from the Chicago Park District, the Chicago Public Library and other departments and partners, Lightfoot's office said.
That programming includes "Halloweek on the Block" surprise pop-ups on residential streets in partnership with the Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks, Lightfoot's office said, as well virtual and in-person themed programs.
Blommer Chocolate Company will also be making 10,000 bags safely filled with candy and treats to be distributed throughout the week, some with a "golden ticket" hidden among them, with winners receiving a 10 lb. chocolate bar.
“This Halloween we’re asking that people use their creativity and imagination not just on their costumes and decorations, but in how they safely celebrate,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said. “Maintain social distancing, keep to small groups and consider celebrating throughout the week to minimize congregation. We’ve made some good progress in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in recent weeks but don’t want to see that reversed, especially with cold weather coming and people spending more time indoors.”
Beginning Oct. 18, Chicago residents can download a "Halloweek" toolkit with safety messaging and signage to let neighbors know they will be participating in the festivities, the city said, asking residents to hang a sign or leave a light on if they choose to pass out candy in accordance with the guidelines.
Additional details are expected to be announced at a later date, while businesses and organizations were also asked to visit the city's website here to register Halloween activities being held in accordance with the city's health guidelines.
Chicago's announcement comes one day after Illinois officials released their own public health guidance on several Halloween festivities like trick-or-treating, costume parties, pumpkin patches and more.
The state's guidance reads as follows:
- Anyone participating in trick-or-treating, including those passing out candy, should maintain 6-feet of social distance and wear proper face coverings.
- Consider leaving individually wrapped candy (spaced apart) on a table in driveways or in front of walkways, sidewalks, or any outdoor space where 6-feet of distance can be maintained.
- A Halloween costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask. Ensure that breathing is not impaired if a cloth mask is worn under a costume mask. If so, discard the costume mask.
- Trick-or-treat in groups with household members only.
- Candy collected during trick-or-treating should not be eaten until after handwashing.
An alternative to traditional trick-or-treating is to set up in a large parking lot or other outdoor setting with tables with individually wrapped candy (spaced apart) where participants with a parent/guardian can parade past while still keeping 6-feet of distance and wearing a face covering. It’s suggested to offer reserved time slots to limit everyone showing up at once.
- Halloween haunted houses currently are not allowed in Restore Illinois Phase 4 Guidelines.
- Consider open-air, one-way haunted forests or haunted walks where 6-feet of distance can be maintained and face coverings are used.
Adult costume parties, social gatherings, Halloween parties at bars
- Gatherings of more than 50 people or 50% or more of a building’s maximum occupancy are prohibited. (Lower limits may apply for regions in additional mitigation.)
- The more time you spend at a gathering, the closer the contact, the more people, the higher your risk of exposure to COVID-19.
- Follow small social gathering safety tips from IDPH.
Pumpkin patches and orchards
- Cloth face coverings and social distancing should be enforced.
- Use hand sanitizer before handling pumpkins, apples, and other produce.
- Hayrides should not exceed 50% capacity with parties spaced at least six feet apart.
- Wear face coverings at all times when around people not from your household.
After participating in any of these activities, anyone who thinks they may have been exposed should take extra precautions for at least 14 days after the event, staying home, avoiding people at increased risk for severe illness with COVID-19 and getting tested, experts say.