Halloween Guidelines in Illinois During COVID-19

The Illinois Department of Public Health reminded residents about the impact of the Phase 4 requirements on Halloween festivities on Sept. 30. 

In a release, the department writes, “Trick-or-treating events need to incorporate social distancing, masking and proper handwashing, as well as adherence to event size limitations.” 

The department, headed by Director Ngozi O. Ezike, MD, also said that indoor haunted houses are prohibited while Illinois remains in Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan. Outdoor haunted trails are acceptable. 

On Oct. 1, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that kids are invited to trick or treat in the city as long as they and candy givers wear masks. The City posted guidelines and will update by Oct. 18 its “Halloweek” festivities, including giveaways from area businesses. 

The CDC considers traditional trick-or-treating and trunk-or-treats as high-risk activities for the spread of COVID-19. 

Illinois DPH recommends alternatives such as leaving individually wrapped candies on a table at the end of the lawn near the sidewalk in lieu of door-to-door and close-contact collection. 

If that isn’t possible – in apartment buildings for instance – the state department recommends frequent hand washings and the constant use of face coverings. 

Other reminders from the Illinois Department of Public Health about Halloween and fall activities include: 

  • Discard unwrapped candy after collection.
  • If trick-or-treating indoors, open windows to promote ventilation.
  • Consider alternatives to trick-or-treating like bags, or use markers and arrows for crowd control.
  • Outdoor haunted forests and haunted walks are allowed, but if screaming is anticipated keep a distance greater than six feet; indoor and barn haunted houses are prohibited.
  • Hayrides should not exceed 50 percent capacity.
  • Events should not exceed 50 people or 50 percent of the capacity of the room or hall the event is in (whichever is smaller).
  • Día de los Muertos events are encouraged to be held outdoors, and masks and social distancing regulations should be adhered to.

For families planning small-group Halloween or Dia de los Muertos events, the Department of Health recommends safety tips that include making sure you have your flu shot in advance of the event and keeping masks on indoors. 

Halloween2020.org, a website created and maintained by the Halloween & Costume Association, has a county-by-county breakdown of COVID-19 risks across the country and how best to celebrate the holiday based on the color of your zone. Cook County is currently in the “orange” zone.

In lieu of trick-or-treating, the CDC recommends outdoor Halloween scavenger hunts or a hunt within your own home for treats instead of door-to-door in the neighborhood.

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