How to trick or treat in Seattle and around the Sound this Halloween

Some parents are giving a hard NO to trick or treating this year, but it can be done safely if everybody takes a few precautions

October 17, 2020
Masked kids trick or treating

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I've got a son in third grade, and I can tell you that he's not planning on skipping Halloween this year.

I know plenty of parents who want to call the whole thing off this October 31: skip the costumes and the candy, shut off all the lights and hide in the back room of their house until all the trick-or-treaters have given up on any hope of filling their bags.

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But I also know plenty of parents -- and definitely their kids -- who want to make this work. 

Judging by the elaborate Halloween decorations that have been adorning houses in my neighborhood for weeks, people are pretty psyched abou the holiday, and I would bet that the people who live in all those houses are planning on figuring out a way to make trick-or-treating happen.

The CDC isn't super encouraging with their Halloween reccomendations.  They put any kind of trick-or-treating in the "moderate risk" category, with these guidlines:

  • Participating in one-way trick-or-treating where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go while continuing to social distance (such as at the end of a driveway or at the edge of a yard)
  • If you are preparing goodie bags, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 second before and after preparing the bags.

They list these activities as "higher risk," warning that you should "avoid these higher risk activities to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19:"

  • Participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door to door
  • Having trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots
  • Attending crowded costume parties held indoors
  • Going to an indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming
  • Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household
  • Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgement and increase risky behaviors
  • Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19

Meanwhile, the Washington State Department of Health has its own tips for potential trick-or-treaters, and they're a little more encouraging:

If you go trick-or-treating:

  • Stick with members of your household and keep at least 6 feet of distance from any nonhousehold members.
  • Wear a cloth face covering or mask if older than age 2. Make sure the mask is snug around your nose and mouth and does not have holes. A plastic costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth face covering.
  • Wash your hands before and after trick-or-treating.
  • Bring plenty of hand sanitizer

If you give out treats:

  • Limit candy to individually wrapped treat bags. This reduces the number of people who would typically touch items in a communal bowl.
  • If possible, place treats on a table in your driveway or yard to avoid crowds at your front door. To see trick-or-treaters, sit in a chair in your driveway, garage, yard, or porch and maintain at least 6 feet of distance from the treat table.
  • Place a few mini pumpkins or other decorations 6 feet apart to signal a line and keep trick-or-treaters distanced while waiting for treats.

Yes, it's going to require some planning and some caution. I would bet that the biggest danger is posed by parents who are accompanying their kids and may not be as cautious about social distancing once they've had more than a few swigs of the wine they're carrying with them in their travel coffee mug. (And there's a lot of that on Halloween! Come on -- you know it's true!)

Anyway -- heed those guidlines, be extra careful, make sure you and your kids are masked up, and we'll all get through this. 

I'll be the dad trying to keep up with the 9-year-old in the Deathstroke costume.

Here's a good article from Seattle Met: How To Halloween During COVID-19.

Here's the CDC Haloween guidlines.

And here's the Washington State Department of Health Tips for a Safer Halloween.