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Town Of Brookline Provides Halloween Guidance

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Public Health Commissioner Dr. Swannie Jett would like to share guidance and safety tips for Halloween celebrations this year to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Consistent with CDC guidelines, the Town strongly discourages traditional, door to door trick-or-treating this year. Residents should shut off their exterior entry lighting to reinforce this policy. Should residents decide to take part in safer trick-or-treating, they could provide individually wrapped candies or goody bags at the end of their driveway or walkway for neighborhood children to take.

In addition, the Town will not be approving any street closures or block parties this year in order to discourage large groups of trick-or-treaters and others from congregating in close proximity.

“Door to door trick-or-treating is contradictory to the efforts we’ve all made throughout this pandemic, so I want to encourage everyone to consider safer alternatives,” Dr. Jett said. “We have done tremendous work as a community to keep our overall COVID-19 risk low to this point, and we want to ensure we’re doing everything we can by taking reasonable precautions while still celebrating Halloween.”

Residents are also asked to take the following precautions from the Department of Public Health if they choose to trick-or-treat this year:

  • Wear a face mask or face covering. For more information on face masks and face coverings, please see the state’s Mask Up MA webpage;
  • Observe good hand hygiene, including hand washing and use of alcohol-based sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol. Carry hand sanitizer and use it often, especially after coming into contact with frequently touched surfaces and before eating candy;
  • Refrain from touching your face;
  • Stay home and refrain from Halloween activities, including handing out Halloween treats, if:
    • you feel unwell;
    • you have tested positive for COVID-19;
    • you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19; or
    • you have traveled to or from a state that is not classified as lower risk within the last 14 days. For more information on lower risk states, please see the state’s COVID-19 Travel Order webpage.
  • Maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet of physical distance from all other participants who are not members of the same household.

Additionally, the Brookline Department of Public Health would like to share the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists of several low and moderate risk alternative activities that community members can take part in for Halloween.

Lower risk alternatives include:

  • Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household and displaying them, or at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends;
  • Decorating your house, apartment, or living space;
  • Doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance;
  • Having a virtual Halloween costume contest;
  • Having a Halloween movie night with people you live with;
  • Having a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going house to house.

Community members may participate in moderate-risk activities, as long as they take the proper safety precautions. These include:

  • Having a small group, outdoor, open-air costume parade where people are distanced more than 6 feet apart;
  • Attending a costume party held outdoors where protective masks are used and people can remain more than 6 feet apart;
    • A costume mask (such as for Halloween) is not a substitute for a cloth mask. A costume mask should not be used unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose and does not leave gaps around the face.
    • Do not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.
  • Going to an open-air, one-way, walk-through haunted forest where appropriate mask use is enforced, and people can remain more than 6 feet apart
    • If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.
  • Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, wearing masks is encouraged or enforced, and people are able to maintain social distancing;
  • Having an outdoor Halloween movie night with local family friends with people spaced at least 6 feet apart
    • If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.

Residents are asked to avoid higher risk activities this Halloween in order to prevent the spread of the virus. These activities include:

  • Participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door-to-door;
  • Having trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots;
  • Attending crowded costume parties held indoors;
  • Going to an indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming;
  • Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household;
  • Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgement and increase risky behaviors;
  • Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19.

More information and holiday safety tips from the CDC can be found here.