Prepare for a ‘Different Type' of Halloween, Chicago's Top Health Official Says

Chicago's Halloween won't be cancelled this year, but could look very different

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With Halloween next month, Chicago's top health official said the city should expect a "different type" of holiday this October.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Tuesday that the city will not cancel Halloween, but people should expect to see different celebrations than previous years due to the coronavirus.

"I'll be honest with you, I'm more worried about the adults than I am the children," Arwady said. "To be perfectly honest, I am worried about the potential for large indoor gatherings."

Arwady asked people to have conversations with their children about dressing up and keeping the excitement of Halloween in a new way.

"Be ready to be thinking differently and more creatively, as we make sure that we celebrate Halloween in ways that don't unnecessarily put put put us at risk,"
the top health official warned.

Arwady said Chicago will release more specific guidelines closer to Halloween as she said she worries about people "letting their guard down" due to the holiday.

The guidelines will likely depend on the level of coronavirus spread in different communities and incorporate the new guidelines issued Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The guidelines include a list ranking the relative risk level of certain traditions, like trick-or-treating and pumpkin-carving. Here are some activities and risk levels:

Attending Halloween Parades

Moderate risk. If you're going to go, be sure that protective masks are used and people can remain more than 6 feet apart, the CDC said.

Going to Halloween Parties

Moderate to high risk. A small, outdoor, socially distanced Halloween party is a relatively good way to celebrate the holiday, according to the CDC.

The CDC does not recommend any indoor parties of any kind.

Wearing Costumes and Masks

Moderate risk. While the costumes themselves are not necessarily dangerous, a costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask. However, wearing a face mask underneath a costume mask can be dangerous because it may not be as breathable, the CDC said. They recommend scrapping a costume mask and just wearing a Halloween-themed face mask.


Moderate to high risk. For the safest form of trick-or-treating, the CDC recommends 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 at the edge of a yard).

The traditional form of trick-or-treating with kids going door to door is a high risk activity that should be avoided, the CDC said.

It's also important to note that if people are screaming, they should be further than the usually recommended six feet apart, according to the CDC.

On social media, some have already started posting creative ways to give candy amid the pandemic.

An Ohio dad and daughter created a "completely touch-free experience for trick-or-treaters" using a long tube used to deliver candy.

The two decorated a six by four inch cardboard tube, which they placed along their railing to slide candy through one of the openings into candy bags.

An Ohio man’s contraption is going viral for providing a way for kids to celebrate Halloween safely.

Other Low Risk Halloween Ideas

While perhaps "non-traditional," the CDC came up with some other safe ways to celebrate the holiday.

One is a Halloween scavenger hunt where you give kids a list of Halloween-themed things to look for and take them on a walk around the neighborhood to admire decorations and look for their items. Or, if you want something closer to trick-or-treating, you could hide candy around the house and have kids look for it, like an Easter egg hunt.

Another option is to take things online with a virtual costume contest with friends and family. Or you could do a Halloween-themed movie night at home with the people who live with you. An outdoor movie night with friends is also an option, but the CDC says it's then a moderate risk activity.

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