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Div. of Public Health recommends alternatives to traditional trick-or-treating this year

Haley Phelps / Unsplash

Delaware’s Division of Public Health released its guidance for Halloween activities this year earlier this month.


The scariest thing about Halloween this year isn’t ghosts and goblins, it’s the deadly pandemic that continues to infect hundreds of Delewareans a day.


DPH categorized all the traditional Halloween activities to help people and municipalities figure out what’s safe to do this year.


Jamie Mack is the environmental health director at the Division of Public Health.


“So the guidance that we’ve put out has low, medium and high risk activities," Mack. "And we’re recommending that this maybe this is the year we focus on some of the low risk activities which could be a movie night at home or something else where you’re not necessarily around people outside of your household.”


Mack says instead of traditional trick-or-treating, neighbors are encouraged to find innovative ways to hand out treats, like passing treats through a window.


He adds parents should consider doing lower risk activities this year. Their list includes things like pumpkin carving, home decoration and a virtual costume contest.


Dover put out less stringent guidelines than DPH. Mayor Robin Christiansen says the city won’t alter their trick or treat guidelines to be more in line with the state. 


He says parents are responsible for keeping their kids safe and those participating in trick or treating should hand out candy in individually wrapped bags, rather than a communal bowl.


“The children in this community and the children across the state of Delaware need something to look forward to,” said Christiansen.


Others, like Milford, Wilmington and Rehoboth Beach pegged their guidelines to the state’s to remain consistent.


Mack says he hopes other municipalities will use DPH’s guidelines as a base for protecting children and their families.


Activities like traditional door-to-door trick or treating, indoor parties or unapproved haunted houses are highly discouraged this year, because of the risk of Coronavirus transmission.



Mack adds all large Halloween events this year have to go through an approval process before they get the green light.


“Some of the haunted attractions as well as some of the other events have been very innovative in how they can operate in a COVID safe manner. Some of the haunted attractions are having people behind walls, making noises and things like that to scare patrons as opposed to having face to face contact,” said Mack.


Mack says the best thing people can do is remember to distance themselves from others and wear face coverings when near other people. 


And DPH notes typical halloween masks are not usually a good substitute for a traditional face covering.


Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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