State department of health releases guidelines for Halloween

Guidelines released to create a safe holiday for all.

Trick or treating tips, options for distributing candy and protocols for outdoor activities are among the health and safety guidelines urged by the state Department of Health in its guidance to help trick-or-treaters and others celebrating Halloween amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

For all activities, social distancing, mask wearing, proper hand sanitizing and gathering limits should be observed.

“In communities across our state, Halloween is more than just a fun activity, but a community and family tradition,” said Gov. Phil Murphy. “This guidance offers the appropriate public health and safety protocols to ensure that everyone has the chance to enjoy Halloween in a safe and responsible manner.”

Groups trick or treating should be limited to current household members, stay local and limit the number of homes visited. Trick or treaters should wear a face mask: Costume masks are not a substitute. If trick or treating with nonhousehold members, individuals should social distance.

The guidance also provides several options for handing out treats, noting the best option is to arrange individually packaged candy to avoid having trick or treaters dip into a shared bowl. Candy should be commercially packaged and nonperishable.

“The health department annually recommends Halloween safety tips such as carrying glow sticks or flashlights while trick-or-treating and having parents check the candy. However, this year is different than any other year,“ said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “The Health Department’s guidance provides steps parents and communities can take to ensure safe and responsible trick or treating and other Halloween activities.”

For outdoor trunk or treating, limits should be placed on the number of participating cars to ensure space for social distancing and also to minimize crowds. Assigned times or multiple shifts should be considered to minimize crowding.

The guidance also notes that indoor or outdoor Halloween parties are subject to the indoor and outdoor gatherings limits and recommends that indoor haunted houses should be avoided. Anyone hosting a haunted house should consider staggered start times and an outdoor location.

Hayrides should limit the number of passengers per ride and keep openings to the same party. Any shared materials should be cleaned and sanitized after each use.

Corn mazes should limit occupancy, only allow groups that come in together to use the maze at one time, and avoid the use of shared materials.

Entities hosting these events are encouraged to take reservations and/ or sell tickets in advance.

Socially distant Halloween activities that would require minimal or no additional health and safety protocols could include virtual activities such as online costume parties, driving through neighborhoods with Halloween displays, or Halloween-themed movie nights with family.

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