With the COVID-19 pandemic remaining a public health threat, Contra Costa County health officials are advising against the usual Halloween traditions -- trick-or-treating, haunted houses, big parties -- to minimize the risk of spreading the virus.
"COVID-19 can easily pass from person to person through close contact, and it's difficult to maintain a safe distance on porches and doorsteps, especially in neighborhoods where trick-or-treating is popular," according to a statement last week from Contra Costa Health Services.
Health officials also warn that social distancing and mask wearing at Halloween parties, especially those that include alcohol, tends to break down as the events progress.
Instead, county health officials encourage emphasizing the aspects of Halloween that can be enjoyed at a safe distance. Recommendations include remote costume parties using Zoom or Skype, and decorating front yards for public viewing. Entire neighborhoods could create such displays as a draw for drive-thru parades, the CCHS statement suggests.
Also encouraged are contactless "COVID-safe" visits among neighbors and families looking for the familiar sights and feel of the holiday, while also maintaining proper social distance and wearing masks. CCHS also encourages county residents to check with their local community recreation departments about organized, safe Halloween activities.
County Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano last week had told the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors he is recommending families forego trick-or-treating this year, as the candy given out is typically touched by at least a few people, and that even doorbells touched by multiple people could result in greater spread of the coronavirus.