Illinois releases COVID-19 Halloween festivities guidance

Illinois

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Health officials in Illinois don’t want this Halloween to make kids scared sick with COVID-19.

The Illinois Department of Public Health thinks it’s best for everyone to stay home this Halloween. They know it’s likely that many people will take part in the annual tradition. The experts have some guidelines to keep everyone safe.  

“You got to be safe if they wear their mask; follow the rules, you can have Halloween,” said Sheila Wildermuth, Fairview Heights resident.

She and her daughter, Rachel, filled bags with candy in preparation for the big day. They plan to place the bags on a table at the end of the driveway so kids can pick it up without any contact with other people.

“For Halloween, we are encouraging people to find ways to celebrate that might look a little bit different than years past but still allows our children to take part in these festivities,” said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The guidelines include the 3 Ws — wash your hands, watch your distance, wear your mask.

Officials say if you think you could have COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, do not participate in any in-person Halloween activities.

The state health department reminds people hayrides and orchard visits are okay. Haunted houses are not permitted under Phase 4 Restore Illinois. Adults should avoid crowded costume parties at homes and bars.

“Challenge yourself and your kids on how you can celebrate these holidays as safely as possible,” Dr. Ngozi Ezike said. 

Ezike said a Halloween mask does not replace a cloth or medical mask. Wear one that will keep you safe.

Herminia McKinzie, a Fairview Heights resident, will set out candy for neighborhood children but her own 11-year-old son will be staying at home.

“I don’t want him to go out and go trick-or-treating because I don’t feel it’s safe,” she said. “He’s fine with it; he wants to stay alive, that’s his words.”

Health experts are also recommending a trunk or treat set up but add tables on the parking lot so kids can parade by and grab their own treat. 

“I think the kids need to get out. I don’t think they need to be secluded anymore but if it makes them feel safe, go through all the precautions,” said Wendy Reynolds, Fairview Heights resident. 

IDPH issued more detailed guidance for popular Halloween activities:

Trick-or-treating

– 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.

Haunted Houses

– 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

– 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.

Officials suggest an alternative to traditional trick-or-treating is to set up in a large parking lot or outdoor space with tables that have individually wrapped candy that is spaced out so people can stay 6-feet apart as they parade past the table.

The state also suggests to offer reserved time slots to limit everyone showing up at once.

After participating in any of the above activities, if you think that you may have been exposed during your celebration, take extra precautions for 14 days after the event to help protect others.  You should:

• Stay home as much as possible.
• Avoid being around people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
• Consider getting tested for COVID-19.

IDPH Halloween guidance can be found on the IDPH website.

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