Social gathering restrictions to remain in place on Halloween, All Souls Day; DPHSS Issues COVID-19 guidance

SHOPPING FOR HALLOWEEN: Noemi Riveron and her 2-year-old daughter, Lenny, look over Halloween trick-or-treat baskets on Sept. 28 at the Underground Dungeon store in Harmon.  Post file photo.

Residents ages 12 and up have to be vaccinated to participate in Halloween and All Souls Day gatherings and activities, according to the Department of Public Health and Social Services.

On Thursday, the agency issued guidance for Halloween and All Souls Day. 

Social gathering limitations of 25 people for outdoor get togethers and 10 people for indoors remain in place. And while businesses are discouraged from giving out treats to individuals, DPHSS officials said curbside distribution of treats are OK. 

For both events, DPHSS officials encourage residents to wear their masks, practice social distancing, frequent handwashing and to avoid crowds.

"Intermingling with other groups is prohibited," the DPHSS guidance states for both Halloween and All Souls Day. 

And officials continue to encourage all age-eligible residents to get vaccinated, or get their booster shots if they qualify. 

All Souls Day

DPHSS officials proposed "safer alternatives" for All Souls Day:

  • Spend time with individuals of the same household or celebrate virtually.
  • Consider placing and creating an altar in a front window or outside so others can view from a safe social distance. 
  • Stagger visits to loved ones’ gravesites to minimize gatherings.  
  • Create a virtual space to honor lost loved ones.  Share with family and friends via email or social media.
  • Do not attend celebrations or participate in activities if you feel sick, have flu-like or COVID-19 symptoms.

 

Halloween 

DPHSS encourages safer alternatives for enjoying Halloween such as:

  • Halloween activities for household members at home, such as playing games, having trick-or-treat, reading Halloween stories or watching movies. 
  • Admiring Halloween decorations in the neighborhood at a distance;
  • Participating in safe curbside trick-or-treating events sponsored by responsible businesses;
  • Holding a drive-by car-decorating contest with judges who are physically distanced; 
  • Having reverse trick-or-treat by dropping small gift bags of commercially packaged candy on neighbor’s porch instead; and/or
  • Conducting a virtual Halloween costume contest so everyone can show off their costume.

If individuals choose to participate in traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating, DPHSS provides requirements below for all individuals involved:

  • Households with any individual experiencing flu-like symptoms or COVID-19-like symptoms, or is under quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19, are prohibited from participating in social gatherings or any trick-or-treating activities, including distribution of treats.
  • Trick-or-treat only with members of the same household. 
  • Face masks/coverings must be worn by all individuals involved in trick-or-treating, with the exception of children under 2 years old. 
  • All individuals participating in any trick-or-treating activities are advised to properly wash hands before handling treats.
  • Refrain from eating treats and candies while trick-or-treating to minimize the removal of face masks.
  • Consider individuals in the household who may be at greater risk of complications if COVID-19 is brought into the home, such as those with certain health conditions, women who are pregnant, or older family members.  
  • Guidance for Individuals/Households Distributing Treats
  • Wash hands properly before handling treats.
  • Wear a face mask at all times.
  • Avoid direct contact with other trick-or-treaters and maintain social distancing of at least six (6) feet from other groups.
  • Treats should only be distributed outdoors.
  • Use store-bought treats that are individually plastic-wrapped.
  • Adults should be the individuals distributing treats while wearing a face mask and gloves. 
  • It is highly encouraged to use tongs, a spoon, or a tray to distribute treats. Children should not be allowed to retrieve their treats from a bowl or bag.
  • It is highly encouraged to practice safer, socially distant ways to conduct door-to-door trick-or-treating and distributing treats:
    • Set up a table/station outside with individually bagged treats spaced apart for trick-or-treaters to take.
    • Use a candy slide made of PVC pipe, or hanging treats from a wall or fence.
  • Guidance for Parents/Guardians/Adults Responsible for Underage Trick-or-Treaters and for Trick-or-Treaters
    • Parents/Guardians should talk with their children about safety precautions and physical distancing in preparation for trick-or-treating. 
    • If your child is at greater risk of complications from COVID-19, contact your doctor before allowing participation in Halloween activities.
    • Wear a face mask.
      • Highly encourage to make face masks a part of Halloween costumes.
      • A costume mask is NOT a substitute for a face mask.
      • Do NOT wear a costume mask over a cloth mask as it may make breathing more difficult.
    • Practice social distancing.
      • Stay at least six (6) feet away from others who do not live in the same household.
      • Individuals are more likely to get or spread COVID-19 when in close contact with others for a long period of time. 
    • Wash your hands.
      • Bring hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol) with you and use it after touching objects or other individuals.
      • Parents/Guardians: supervise young children using hand sanitizers.
      • Wash hands with soap and water for at least twenty (20) seconds when you get home and before you consume any treats.
    • Upon completion of trick-or-treating, the following are highly advised:
      • Candy collected during trick-or-treating should not be consumed until after handwashing.
      • Allow children to eat only factory-wrapped treats.  Avoid homemade treats made by strangers.
      • As always, parents/guardians should check all treats to make sure they are properly wrapped and should discard treats with broken or unsealed wrappers.

Businesses distributing treats

    • Businesses are strongly discouraged from holding in-person/walk-through trick-or-treat events in an enclosed, indoor area, or an in-person, non-curbside, outdoor area. 
    • Outdoor, drive-up, and curbside distribution of treats is encouraged.
      • For Employees Distributing Treats:
        • No more than twenty-five (25) vaccinated employees may participate in the distribution of treats.
        • Face masks are required to be worn by employees distributing treats.
        • Hands must be washed by employees with soap for a minimum of twenty (20) seconds or with hand sanitizer (with 60% or more alcohol) before handling treats.  Use hand sanitizers between servicing trick-or-treating vehicle.
        • It is highly encouraged to use tongs, a spoon, or a tray to distribute treats.  Children should not be allowed to retrieve their treats from a bowl or bag.
      • For Individuals Receiving Treats:
        • Individuals must remain in their vehicles.
        • Turn off any mechanical ventilation (i.e., fan and air conditioning) of the vehicle before driving up to receive treats.
        • Face masks must be worn by all individuals in the vehicle while receiving treats. 
    • Applicable DPHSS guidance memoranda and minimum requirements must be followed, including, but not limited to, the following:
      • Do not allow any congregation of individuals in the parking lot and other areas on the premises.  Eliminate all common seating, lounge, or play areas where children and others might congregate.
      • Have hand sanitizers readily available to all customers.

 

 

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