As we enter fall, families are starting to plan for upcoming fall events and the holiday season. It is best to plan precautionary measures for Halloween as most trick-or-treaters are children who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated. It is safest to plan for outdoor events and to dress for the weather. Keeping a safe physical distance from others outside one’s household will also reduce risk. Also remember that everyone aged 2 years and older in Illinois, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a mask when in public indoor settings. Ultimately, the best precautionary measure for the holiday season is for those who are eligible (12 years old and up) to get vaccinated for COVID-19, and for everyone 6 months and older to get the seasonal flu vaccine. Find more information on having fun while staying safe this Halloween from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
An Executive Order from the Governor requires all people aged 2 years and older who can medically tolerate a mask to wear a mask over their nose and mouth when in an indoor public place. Keep in mind that a costume mask is not a substitute for a well-fitting mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Instead, encourage kids and others dressing up to incorporate a mask as part of their costume. In any case, do not wear a costume mask over a mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19 because it could make breathing more difficult.
Outdoor areas are safer for trick-or-treating than enclosed indoor areas, like apartment buildings, that present a greater risk of transmission. Trick-or-treating in small groups for a brief duration at each door is highly recommended, as opposed to large groups. If trick-or-treating outdoors is not possible, there are steps people can take to make indoor trick-or-treating safer. Hosts indoors should open doors and windows as much as possible to promote increased ventilation and masks should be properly worn. Hand washing is important, especially for those handing out and receiving treats. Individuals should wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol both before handling or eating treats.
Alternative activities may involve trick-or-treating in a parking lot or other outdoor setting. Individually wrapped or prepackaged candy or treats can be set out ahead of time for trick-or-treaters. Youth may also parade outdoors in costume with a parent/guardian.
Haunted Houses, Woods, and Walks
Consider open-air haunted houses, haunted woods, or haunted walks with family and friends, which reduces the risk of transmission than indoor events.
Pumpkin Patches, Orchard Visits, and Fall Festivals
Enjoy these outdoor events and use good judgment in limiting your exposure by moving away from crowded spaces and limiting close contact with others in smaller spaces.
Social Gatherings and Halloween Parties at Private Home Indoors
Large gatherings with more people are higher risk than small gatherings. Indoor gatherings should allow for plenty of physical distancing. Non-crowded outdoor gatherings are safest. Please be attentive to the host’s efforts to invite guests to spaces in which physical distancing can be accommodated. Open windows for ventilation as weather permits. When hosting family and friends who may not be fully vaccinated, including children, guests should wear a mask to help minimize potential transmission.
Social Gatherings and Halloween Parties at Public Indoor Places
Large gatherings with more people are higher risk than small gatherings. Indoor gatherings should allow for physical distancing and everyone aged 2 years and older should wear a mask when indoors when not eating or drinking. Non-crowded outdoor gatherings are safest. Please be respectful to the manager’s efforts to accommodate physical distancing for patrons. Ventilation is also important. Hosts should allow as much fresh air as possible into the space by opening as many doors and windows as possible when it’s safe to do so, using a window exhaust fan if one is available, placing a fan blowing outside as close as possible to an open window or door, or using air filters or cleaners.
Día de los Muertos
It is possible to take a lower risk approach to many of the traditional activities associated with Día de los Muertos. Events and activities to honor deceased loved ones are safest held outdoors. Smaller indoor gatherings with physical distancing will have less risk of COVID-19 transmission. Exchanging traditional family recipes with family or neighbors to make at a later date can also be a safe way to celebrate and remember deceased loved ones.
If You Develop Symptoms or Have Known Close Contact
If you think you could have COVID-19 or may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should get tested and not participate in in-person Halloween festivities and should not give out candy to trick-or-treaters.
If you develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or if you test positive for COVID-19, immediately isolate and contact others who you were in close contact with. Contact your health care provider and follow the CDC-recommended steps for what to do if you become sick.
If you are fully vaccinated and were in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days. If you have no symptoms, get tested for COVID-19 3-5 days following the exposure and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until you receive a negative test result. If you have symptoms or test positive for COVID-19, isolate yourself from others and contact a health care provider for evaluation.
If you are not fully vaccinated and were in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19:
- Stay home for 14 days from the last time you had close contact with that person.
- Monitor for symptoms of COVID-19.
- Get tested for COVID-19 5-7 days after that exposure.
Stay safe and enjoy this Halloween!