Many traditional Halloween activities – such as trick-or-treating, indoor costume parties, and sharing festive food or drink – pose a high risk of cross contamination and the possible transmission of COVID-19. The San Francisco Department of Public Health has issued guidance to help San Franciscans celebrate a safer Halloween.
Door-to-door trick-or-treating is discouraged because it can be difficult to maintain proper physical distancing at front doors and on crowded sidewalks, it is difficult to ensure that everyone answering or coming to the door is appropriately masked, and because sharing food is considered a high-risk activity for COVID-19 transmission. Additionally, “trunk or treating” between cars is discouraged due to similar risks of transmission when multiple people gather in a shared setting.
Although trick-or-treating is discouraged, if you choose to do so, consider laying out individually wrapped goodie bags that are lined up for families to grab and go while continuing to physically distance yourself from other trick-or-treaters. Wash your hands with soap and water before preparing these bags.
As an alternative to traditional Halloween celebrations, the San Francisco Department of Public Health suggests home-based activities and the use of re-opened and permitted business and social activities that do not pose as high a risk of transmission.
These safer activities include:
- Virtual parties/contests (e.g. costume contests or pumpkin carving)
- Creating a haunted house in your living space for members of your household
- Scavenger hunt for hidden treats in your living space for members of your household, rather than going house-to-house
- Having a scary movie night or other Halloween-themed activities
- Outdoor pumpkin carving. Note: face coverings must be worn if carving pumpkins with people from outside your household
- Halloween themed meals at outdoor restaurants to support local businesses
- Having or attending an outdoor, open-air costume parade with no more than 12 people, where protective face coverings are used and people can remain more than 6 feet apart
The following activities present an elevated risk for the transmission of COVID-19 and are prohibited by local or state public health orders:
- Gatherings of more than 12 persons, either indoors or outdoors. Note: Gatherings with more than 12 people are okay if all of those individuals live with you
- Indoor Halloween gatherings, celebrations, events or parties with non-household members
- Haunted houses, carnivals, festivals, and live entertainment attractions
Regardless of how you choose to celebrate Halloween, it is important to keep the following practices in mind:
- Face Coverings: Wear a face covering that securely covers your nose and mouth when outside your home and around others that are not part of your household. Plastic, rubber, vinyl, and other Halloween costume masks are not acceptable substitutes for face coverings to prevent COVID-19 spread.
- Practice Physical Distancing: Stay at least 6 feet away from people who are not part of your own household, especially when talking, eating, or drinking.
- Outdoors is MUCH Safer: Avoid confined spaces, especially indoors.
- Good Hygiene: Wash or sanitize your hands often. Clean high touch items regularly.
- Minimize Mixing: Plan activities to limit mixing between different households.
- Stay home if you are sick or you are in a high-risk group: If you are sick, or you have been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or has symptoms of COVID-19 please get tested and stay home and away from others. High-risk groups include people above the age of 60, and those with certain underlying medical conditions.
San Franciscans can access the City’s guidelines and safe practices for Halloween at SF.gov/HalloweenAtHome.