Health officials say trick-or-treating OK if you do it safely, wear masks

Posted at 5:57 PM, Oct 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-29 19:27:36-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — This month was full of outdoor Halloween events and drive-thru trick-or-treats around the Kansas City metro.

With a near-perfect weather forecast in store for Halloween on Saturday, it may be easy to follow health officials' suggestions to keep holiday activities outside.

Passing out candy just takes a second, and that's why health officials are giving it the green light on Halloween this year.

"If the interaction is just a few seconds and if all of the parties are wearing masks, and if it's outside the house that's OK too, but the safer way is to let people just get (the candy) and go," said Dr. Sanmi Areola, director of the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also suggests setting individual candy bags outside for kids to grab.

Most health agencies are not warning against trick-or-treating this year, but say to do it safely.

"I think, for example, if they’re friends you’re always with every day anyway, then being in trick-or-treating is not going to change that dynamic," said Dr. Steve Stites with the University of Kansas Health System. "But if it’s a bubble in which we are bringing people from the outside, that’s probably a little dicey."

Parents at a drive-thru trick-or-treating event at the Walmart near Zona Rosa said they're doing things a little different.

"We're going to have a party with my little nephew and my granddaughter at the house and do just some little activities," Cindy Lawrey said.

Lawrey said they will not trick-or-treat this year because of the pandemic.

"We're just going to try to stay in our own bubble, maintain people's distance and respect other people's boundaries and just kind of try to do it as normal as we can for the kids," Rachel Whitton said.

Whitton said kids have been through a lot already this year and wants them to have some fun where they can.

Doctors say it's obvious: if you're sick, stay home. If you or anyone else in your family is high-risk, stay home.

If you're going out, a Halloween mask won't cut it. You should still wear a mask like the one you've worn throughout the pandemic.

"Most of those masks have holes for the mouth and the nose so that really won’t do much," Stites said of a typical Halloween costume mask. "You might have to have some kind of a cool mask made up on your own that looks a little like Halloween, that can help you do it."

And what about Halloween parties?

Areola advises keeping activities outside where distancing is easier and where the virus won't linger in the air for longer amounts of time.

"Any time you have gatherings indoors and you have people where you can't physically distance and can't wear masks, parties where you have to eat and drink and you can't wear masks, you mingle with people, those are not good for the pandemic," Areola said. "So we've been saying avoid situations like that."

Areola and the doctors at the University of Kansas Health System recognize how much people love Halloween and encourage them to have fun, but say safety protocols shouldn't be thrown out the door.