Town To Follow State Guidance for Halloween amid COVID-19; Traditional Trick-or-Treating Discouraged

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Town officials say New Canaan this Halloween is following federal and state public health guidelines, which include hosting drive-by events or planning activities within the household in lieu of traditional trick-or-treating. 

Asked about Halloween amid the COVID-19 pandemic, New Canaan Health Director Jenn Eielson said in an email, “As far as the health department goes we are following CDC and state DPH [Department of Public Health] guidelines.”

“The health department continues to monitor the cases and community situation leading up to Halloween,” Eielson said.

Guidelines on trick-or-treating, a “high-risk activity” under the state’s definition, call for “one-way trick-or-treating where goodie bags or a large bowl of candy are placed outside of your home for families to grab and go while continuing to social distance.”

For those who do choose to hand out candy, state public health officials recommend washing hands prior to answering the door, covering your nose and mouth, staying six feet away from trick-or-treaters and placing candy in the children’s bags rather than having them reach into a bowl.

“All trick-or-treating participants should wear a mask or face covering while outside at all times,” the guidelines say (full list here). “A costume mask (such as for Halloween) is not a substitute for a cloth or surgical 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 or surgical mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.Do not wear a costume rubber mask over another face covering of any kind.”

Some local residents are taking precautionary measures in advance of the holiday. 

For example, the roughly three dozen households on Kimberly Place have agreed to not hand out candy this year, neighbors say, and are considering placing signs on the popular Halloween street informing potential trick-or-treaters of their plan.

The town is hosting Halloween events for children and families that require masks. 

Recreation Director Steve Benko during Wednesday night’s regular meeting of the Parks & Recreation Commission said a “Pumpkin Painting Party” will be held in three sessions Monday at Waveny House. Also, a socially distanced, multi-session “Halloween Happenings Outdoor Family Walk” will be held Oct. 23. Both events require advance registration. 

“We’ve got a lot of Halloween decorations,” Benko said at the meeting, held via videoconference. “A lot of the inflatable Halloween things, and some witches and different things.”

The question of how New Canaan would handle Halloween this year came up at a Health & Human Services Commission meeting earlier this month. There, First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said the town was awaiting state guidance. 

Part of that guidance calls for “lower or moderate risk alternatives” to traditions such as trick-or-treating.

“The ability to maintain social distancing and follow face covering rules is especially important when participating in Halloween activities,” the DPH said. “In addition, please refrain from leaving your home for any Halloween activity and do not pass out Halloween candy if you are ill or have traveled to one of the states listed on the Connecticut travel advisory between October 16th and October 30th.”

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