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CDC advises against traditional trick-or-treating during COVID-19

CDC advises against traditional trick-or-treating during COVID-19
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With Halloween around the corner, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is advising against "higher risk activities" that could contribute to the spread of COVID-19, including traditional trick-or-treating, indoor costume parties and visiting haunted houses.

“Many traditional Halloween activities can be high-risk for spreading viruses,” the CDC wrote in guidance published Monday.

“There are several safer, alternative ways to participate in Halloween,” the guidance reads, before listing “lower risk” activities, like pumpkin carving with members of your household.

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The CDC also released general guidelines for fall and winter holidays including Rosh Hashanah, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, with considerations for traveling as well as hosting and attending gatherings.

These holidays “typically include large gatherings of families and friends, crowded parties, and travel that may put people at increased risk for COVID-19,” the guidance states.

The CDC divides various activities into three categories of low, moderate, or higher risk, with virtual events or indoor activities involving household members as the safest. Small outdoor gatherings with friends and family in the community with social distancing and masking are moderate risk, while crowded, indoor activities with no mask-wearing are higher risk, according to the guidance.

For Halloween, trick-or-treating or trunk-or-treat events are listed as high-risk activities that should be avoided to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. People should also avoid going on hayrides or tractor rides with people outside of their households, and traveling to rural fall festivals if they live in an area with community spread of COVID-19.

The agency suggests “one-way trick-or-treating” as a moderate risk activity, in which individually wrapped “goodie” bags are lined up for families to grab at the end of a driveway or edge of a yard so as to maintain social distancing. 

Small group, outdoor, open-air costume parades or parties with social distancing and mask-wearing are also listed as moderate risk activities, but the agency notes that costume masks are not a substitute for cloth masks.

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Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people use hand sanitizer, wear masks and maintain social distancing is also listed as a moderate risk activity.

During Thanksgiving, small dinners with household members are listed as lowest risk, while small outdoor dinners with family and friends who live in the community are considered a moderate risk.

The CDC also advises against Black Friday shopping, as well as participating in or watching crowded races or parades.