As we put the finishing touches on our pumpkins ahead of Halloween, D.C.-area health officials are offering a word of warning on how to keep the holiday safe.
Last year, Halloween went largely uncelebrated, as local governments asked families not to participate in trick-or-treating. Even though it’s permitted this year, Halloween will be different for many reasons, said Dr. George Askew, of the Prince George’s County’s Health Department in Maryland, especially for those planning a costume that requires a mask, such as Darth Vader, Iron Man or a hockey goalie.
“Consider Halloween-themed face coverings instead of costume masks. Costume masks have mouth and nose openings, and, when worn alone do not provide the same protection as cloth face coverings. Also, keep in mind that the costume mask on top of a cloth mask can be dangerous and limit breathing,” Askew said.
Montgomery County health officials suggest kids trick-or-treat outside, sanitize their hands and try to avoid congregating at doorways.
“We want kids to enjoy Halloween, but we want to be sure they are celebrating safely,” said acting health officer Dr. James Bridgers. “We have to remember that for many children [out] trick-or-treating, vaccination is not yet an option, and we want them to be protected as much as possible.”
- Stay on the move while trick-or-treating — less congregating means less chance to spread a virus, as well as more houses and more treats;
- Keep trick-or-treating groups small;
- Eat your treats at home, and/or after washing or sanitizing your hands;
- If you are handing out candy, please wear a mask while interacting with children and socially distance.
“Candy should be given out using a scoop or tongs so the candy is not directly handled, and children should not reach into candy bowls or bags,” Askew said.
He suggests preparing small bags of candy instead and wearing a mask if you’re at the door interacting with children who are likely unvaccinated.
Askew adds that kids should wash their hands before opening any candy and avoid sharing basically anything, including masks, fake fangs, already-opened candy or the king-size candy bar from the cool neighbor’s house.
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