Halloween in a pandemic: celebrating safely

Elise Goulding, Staff Writer

With a pandemic continuing to affect the City of Evanston, Halloween still approaches.  This year, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has labeled traditional trick-or-treating as a high-risk activity. As a result, many peoples’ Halloween routines will change, and in place of longtime traditions, people will be left to find different ways to make a variety of Halloween activities safer by lowering the risk of infection. 

Halloween is a time of celebration for many, but it may cause people to come into contact with others, which poses a risk to the health and safety of themselves and others. Staying safe during this time is critical. In the past, holidays such as Memorial Day have shown a large increase in COVID-19 cases. According to The Washington Post, after Memorial Day, Texas saw a 36 percent increase in cases. Halloween creates a perfect opportunity for another spike. The Illinois COVID-19 case rate has been increasing over the past month, however, the state has kept the number of cases to a manageable amount.

In a Sept. 25 press release, Evanston Health and Human Services Director Ike Ogbo stated, “It’s critical that all residents remain vigilant about following public health directives and continue to exercise good judgment while participating in holiday celebrations and festivities.”

According to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, there was an average of 308,183 thousand cases in the week of Oct. 4. In order to keep the average caseload around this number, all Evanston residents should continue to follow guidelines provided by both the CDC and the City of Evanston. 

Since Halloween is celebrated by a large portion of the U.S., many people have created traditions around it. Whether it be dressing up in a costume, handing out candy or trick-or-treating, adjustments to these traditions are necessary and, despite COVID-19, plans are continuing to be made in order to keep the fun alive. 

“We will probably put out some candy, like in a little bag,” ETHS graduate and father of two Jeff Parker said. “And then maybe go to one or two houses of people that we know and go trick-or-treating.”

Those who choose to trick-or-treat are encouraged to do so within the most recent guidelines from the City of Evanston. These include wearing a cloth mask rather than a costume mask, staying six feet away from both other trick-or-treaters and anyone giving out candy, washing your hands before and after trick-or-treating, hand sanitizing periodically while trick-or-treating and limiting the number of houses you visit. 

“[Trick-or-treating is] an individual choice of what people are comfortable with…I empathize with families that don’t feel comfortable doing it, and I totally understand that. And for those families that do feel comfortable enough doing trick-or-treating, I hope that they do it safely.”