PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city of Pittsfield is strongly discouraging residents from participating in traditional trick-or-treating this year.
The novel coronavirus pandemic has already resulted in the cancellation of the annual Halloween parade and to mitigate transmission of COVID-19, is recommending residents participate in low-risk activities as set out in the guidelines of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
For its part, Pittsfield will sponsor several virtual Halloween-themed contests. However, for those who wish to go door to door, the hours will be 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 31. Those who don't want to partake in the evening's activities should turn off their porch light.
"The gains we have made as a community are a reflection of our consistent and shared commitment to keep ourselves and those around us safe. For this reason, we are strongly urging residents not to participate in trick-or-treat. Despite the risks, we understand that there will be residents and families who choose to participate in trick-or-treat," said Mayor Linda Tyer in a statement. "For those who wish to carry on with this Halloween tradition, we are recommending a number of safety measures to minimize the risk to both themselves and to those around them."
Halloween hours are subject to Pittsfield remaining low-risk (green or gray category) on the state's COVID-19 Community Data map. There is no rain or storm date.
Maintaining adherence to standard COVID-19 recommendations is strongly encouraged including: maintain at least 6 feet of social distancing; avoid crowds and indoor activities with non-household members; wear a COVID-compliant face mask (a Halloween costume mask is not COVID-compliant and should not used with a cloth covering); wash hands frequently or use hand sanitizer.
Other safety recommendations:
Wash hands before packaging single, grab-and-go candy packages.
Set up candy stations in a manner that makes grab-and-go easy, quick, and limits interactions with non-household members.
Do not use communal candy bowls and baskets.
Trick-or-treat with members of your household only.
Please stay in your neighborhood.
Keep moving. Do not congregate on streets, sidewalks or driveways.
Do not allow your child to bring Halloween candy to school.
For those who plan to opt out of this year's trick-or-treat, there are still plenty of ways to safely enjoy the Halloween. City residents are invited to enter the city's virtual Halloween contests that include three themes: Pumpkin Carving, Costumes, and Exterior Home Decorations, with selected categories for both adults and children.
Submissions for each contest will be accepted now through Sunday, Oct. 25. Each winner will receive a cash prize and will be
featured on the Pittsfield Parks and Recreation Facebook page on Friday, Oct. 30. For more information and contest rules, visit the Parks and Recreation page on the city's website, www.cityofpittsfield.org
Door-to-door trick or treating is included among the CDC's list for higher-risk activities that can spread the virus. Other high-risk activities include trunk-or-treat events that include the distribution of candy from cars in parking lots; indoor costume parties that may attract large crowds; indoor haunted houses where people may be crowded together and screaming; hayrides or tractor rides with people not in your household; and traveling to rural fall festivals outside of one's community that may be located in an area with community spread of COVID-19.
Low-risk activities include carving pumpkins and home decorating; scavenger hunt such holiday-themed items to look for while admiring decorated homes or one within the home; Halloween movie night within the household or with people in your "pod"; outdoor costume party at which social distancing can be observed; haunted forest, pumpkin patches or orchards that follow safety protocols;