Top New York officials released guidance on how to celebrate Halloween safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The New York State’s Division of Consumer Protection and the New York State Department of Health are urging parents and children use caution during this year’s Halloween celebrations.

Officials believe the most important tips to follow are to avoid large gatherings, keep your distance of six feet from others, wear a mask or face covering and wash your hands often.

"Halloween has a long tradition of being fun for families and children but this year the rules have changed due to COVID-19,"Secretary of State Rossana Rosado, who oversees the Division of Consumer Protection, said. "We urge everyone to be mindful and protect our children and each other so the experience of trick-or-treating remains enjoyable while maintaining healthy habits during this pandemic year. Let’s find safe ways to celebrate and create magical memories this Halloween."

Health officials want Empire State residents to not go trick-or-treating or leave out candy if you are sick, live with someone who is sick, have been exposed to someone known to have COVID-19 in the last 14 days, are under isolation or quarantine, or have traveled internationally or to a state affected by the New York State Travel Advisory in the last 14 days.

"We all want our children and our communities to enjoy the magic of Halloween, but it’s critical to prioritize health and safety due to the COVID-19 pandemic," New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said. "We urge families to remember to wear masks, social distance, practice proper hand hygiene and take steps to make sure the Halloween activities you choose to engage in are as safe as possible."

The New York State’s Division of Consumer Protection and the New York State Department of Health issued the following ways to celebrate safely:

Outside trick-or-treating

  • The New York State Department of Health recommends that if people decide to go out, wear a protective cloth mask of at least two layers of breathable fabric—not a costume mask. A Halloween mask should not be a substitute for a protective mask.
  • Trick-or-treat only with your household family group. Always stay socially distanced from those who are not living in your household.
  • Do not pick out candy from a bowl or receive candy directly from someone’s hands. If there is crowding in front of a home, or if treats are directly taken from a bowl or directly handed out from someone’s hands, skip that house and find a safer option.
  • If you hand out treats, consider sitting outside and lining up individually prepacked treat bags for families.
  • Look for community events focused on safe ways to have fun. These may include programs offered by a park district, arboretum, zoo or other outdoor venues in your area.
  • Wash hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer before, during and after any Halloween activities. Consider carrying Halloween-themed or decorated hand sanitizer or leaving some out for your trick-or-treaters to use.

Activities

  • In cities or apartment buildings, communities can come together to trick-or-treat around the block or other outdoor spaces so kids and families aren’t tempted to trick-or-treat inside –building residents and businesses can contribute treats that are individually wrapped and placed on a table(s) outside of the front door of the building, or in the other outdoor space for grab and go trick-or-treating.
  • Avoid indoor events such as haunted houses. A local haunted forest or corn maze may be a better option, as long as you use a cloth face covering, practice physical distancing and proper steps are taken by the venue such as enforcing one-way walk paths.
  • If you think the haunted house or activity may illicit some screaming, leave extra distance between you and the next group to lower the risk of spreading the virus.
  • If you go to a pumpkin patch or apple orchard, use hand sanitizer before and after touching what you pick.
  • Trick-or-treating may be discouraged or cancelled in some areas this year. A family scavenger hunt for treats in your home or yard can be a fun alternative.

Costumes

  • See if you can incorporate your face covering into a costume, but remember, a face covering must always be made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around the face!
  • Never wear protection mask under the costume mask because it can make breathing difficult especially for a child. If your child’s costume includes a face mask, better to forgo wearing it this year. Instead, children should wear a protection mask.
  • Look for fabrics labeled “flame resistant” such as nylon or polyester when purchasing costumes, beards, wigs and masks. Flame resistant fabrics are not flame proof but they will resist burning and can be extinguished quickly.
  • Purchase or make costumes that are light colored, bright and clearly visible to motorists. Dark colored costumes are hard to see at night.

Treats

  • If your child collects treats from a few, socially distanced neighbors, you may want to wipe the packages or let them sit for a couple days before giving them to your child.
  • Examine any toys or small items for young children under three years of age that may pose a choking hazard or may separate while in use and present a choking hazard.
  • Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.

Drivers

  • Slow down and take extra care when driving on Halloween, especially in neighborhoods and areas where there may be trick-or-treaters.
  • Be careful when passing stopped vehicles. They may be stopping to let trick-or-treaters cross the road or unloading passengers. The visibility of trick-or-treaters and other pedestrians may be obstructed.
  • Always look out for pedestrians, especially before turning at a green light or making a "right turn on red."

Decorations

  • Use battery operated tea-lights, LED lights or glow sticks instead of an open flame candle for your Jack-o-Lanterns. Keep your decorated Jack-o-Lanterns away from curtains, decorations or other flammable objects that could be ignited. Do not leave an open flame candle unattended.
  • Keep any candles or Jack-o-Lanterns away from landings or doorsteps where costumes could brush against the flames and place them on a sturdy table.

Get Creative 

  • Organize a virtual Halloween costume party with costumes and games.
  • Have a neighborhood car parade or vehicle caravan where families show off their costumes while staying socially distanced and remaining in their cars.
  • Make this year even more special and consider non-candy Halloween treats that your trick-or-treaters will love, such as spooky or glittery stickers, magnets, temporary tattoos, pencils/erasers, bookmarks, glow sticks, or mini notepads.
  • Create a home or neighborhood scavenger hunt where parents or guardians give their kids candy when they find each "clue."
  • Go all out to decorate your house this year – have a neighborhood contest for the best decorated house.
  • Carve and decorate pumpkins at home – try some new creative ideas and have a family contest.
  • Play Halloween-themed games with members of your household or watch spooky movies.
  • Trick-or-treat room to room in your home.