TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — Tulare County health officials on Friday released recommendations for celebrating Halloween during the coronavirus pandemic as the virus continues to spread throughout the county.
Residents are urged to protect themselves by participating in low-risk activities and Halloween celebrations during the month of October, said Carrie Monteiro, spokeswoman for the county Public Health Branch. COVID-19 continues to pose a risk to the health of communities and the region’s most vulnerable populations.
Officials stressed the need for residents to be aware of high-risk environments for the spread of the virus and should avoid high-risk activities while celebrating Halloween.
“Many traditional Halloween activities can be high-risk for spreading viruses, including COVID-19,” said Dr. Karen Haught, Tulare County Health Officer. “There are several safer, alternative ways to participate in Halloween festivities while reducing the risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus.”
Haught added that anyone who may have COVID-19 or may have been exposed to someone with the virus should not participate in any in-person Halloween festivities and should not give out candy to trick-or-treaters.
To reduce COVID-19 cases and deaths in Tulare County, officials urge residents to avoid these high-risk activities to help prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- Halloween gatherings or parties with non-household members
- Carnivals, festivals, and haunted house attractions are high-risk for spread of COVID-19
- Attending crowded costume parties held indoors
- Going to an indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming
- Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgment and increase risky behaviors
- Participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door to door, because it is difficult to maintain proper social distancing on porches and at front doors
- Trunk-or-treat events where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots
- Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household
Public Health officials urge residents to use alternative means when celebrating Halloween safely this year with these lower-risk activities:
- Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household and displaying them
- Decorating your house, apartment, or living space
- Doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance
- Having a virtual Halloween costume contest
- Having a Halloween movie night with people you live with
- Having a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going from house to house
- No-contact online or virtual pumpkin carving/costume contests
- Car parades that comply with public health guidance for vehicle-based parades, including:
- Drive-by events or contests where individuals dress up or decorate their vehicles and drive by “judges” who are appropriately physically distanced
- Drive-through events where individuals remain in their vehicles and drive through an area with Halloween displays
- Drive-in events where individuals can receive a treat bag (limited to commercially packaged, non-perishable treats) or takeaway item from an organizer while the participants remain in their vehicles
Health officials said the most important thing to keep loved ones safe and healthy and to not risk their health by gathering with people outside your own residence.
Tulare County reported seeing COVID-19 cases spike following holiday gatherings and ask residents to cooperate to avoid future spikes.