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Posted on: October 8, 2020

City of Gloucester Shares Guidance for Staying Safe, Healthy this Halloween

Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken, Fire Chief Eric Smith, Police Chief Edward Conley and Public Health Director Karin Carroll wish to provide tips and guidance for reducing the risk of COVID-19 exposure and spread this Halloween.

Trick-or-treating will take place in Gloucester on Saturday, Oct. 31, and traditionally begins at sunset.

Should residents partake in trick-or-treating, they are encouraged to make individually wrapped goodie bags that can be placed at the end of a driveway or the edge of their yard for families to take. Those who do not wish to participate in Trick-or-Treat are asked to shut off their outdoors lights as an indicator. Residents are also encouraged to explore other options to celebrate Halloween other than trick-or-treating, which better promote social distancing.

“We want children and families to have a fun holiday, while making conscious, careful choices about how they celebrate this year amid the ongoing pandemic,” Mayor Romeo Theken said. “Everyone needs to do their part to reduce the risk of this virus spreading. Protect yourself, your family, your friends and your community, and please make responsible decisions this Halloween.”

“There are many ways that everyone can still have a fun, festive, spooky holiday, while also reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19,” Carroll said. “Above all else, please stay home if you are sick. Avoid large gatherings, practice social distancing, wear a double layered cloth face mask — which cannot be swapped for a costume mask –, and wash your hands. Don’t let your plans this Halloween risk exposing anyone to this virus, it simply isn’t worth the realities of this illness.”

Residents are advised to take the following precautions from the Department of Public Health if they choose to trick-or-treat this year:

  • Wear a face mask or face covering. For more information on face masks and face coverings, please see the state’s Mask Up MA webpage.
  • Observe good hand hygiene, including hand washing and use of alcohol-based sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol. Carry hand sanitizer and use it often, especially after coming into contact with frequently touched surfaces and before eating candy.
  • Refrain from touching your face.
  • Stay home and refrain from Halloween activities, including handing out Halloween treats, if:
    • you feel unwell;
    • you have tested positive for COVID-19;
    • you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19; or
    • you have traveled to or from a state that is not classified as lower risk within the last 14 days. For more information on lower risk states, please see the state’s COVID-19 Travel Order webpage. 

Maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet of physical distance from all other participants who are not members of the same household.

Additionally, the City of Gloucester would like to share the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists of several low and moderate risk alternative activities that community members can take part in for Halloween.

Lower risk alternatives include:

  • Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household and displaying them, or at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends
  • 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 house to house

Community members may participate in moderate-risk activities, as long as they take the proper safety precautions. These include:

  • Having a small, outdoor, open-air costume gathering where people are distanced more than 6 feet apart
  • Attending a costume party held outdoors where protective masks are used and people can remain more than 6 feet apart
    • A costume mask (such as for Halloween) is not a substitute for a cloth mask. A costume mask should not be used unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around the face.
    • Do not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.
  • Going to an open-air, one-way, walk-through haunted forest where appropriate mask use is enforced, and people can remain more than 6 feet apart
    • If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.
  • Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, wearing masks is encouraged or enforced, and people are able to maintain social distancing
  • Having an outdoor Halloween movie night with local family friends with people spaced at least 6 feet apart
    • If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.

Residents are asked to avoid higher risk activities this Halloween in order to prevent the spread of the virus. These activities include:

  • Participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door-to-door
  • Having trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots
  • Attending crowded costume parties held indoors
  • Going to an indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming
  • Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household
  • Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgement and increase risky behaviors
  • Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19

More information and holiday safety tips from the CDC can be found here.


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