Local governments will be taking up the question of Halloween activities in the coming weeks but it looks like traditional trick-or-treating is out this year. And don't think that plastic costume mask is a substitute for the cloth one you're wearing now.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control released its guidance for the candy-flavored holiday
with activity levels of low, moderate and high for transmission of the novel coronavirus that has infected nearly 7 million in the United States and killed more than 200,000.
Not surprisingly, going door to door to have treats handed out is among the riskier activities. The same goes for handing out candy from cars lined up in parking lots. Both mean interacting with or getting close to people who may not be in your "pod" -- those individuals with whom you have been isolating with over the past six months.
Also out are crowded parties and haunted houses held indoors, and even tractor or hayrides with people not in your household.
Most towns set the hours of Halloween to provide some consistency for residents. Last year, many Berkshire communities moved the Halloween celebration to Nov. 2 because of torrential rains and did the same in 2012 when Hurricane Sandy hit the coast. A freak snowstorm in 2011 also caused a wave of cancellations and postponements of events related to the holiday.
This year, COVID-19 has affected numerous holiday and summer events, ranging from cancellation of Memorial Day parades and observances to the shutdown of the Fall Foliage Parade for the first time since the Oct. 4 storm of 1987. Pittsfield has canceled its big Halloween parade and officials in Adams are trying to come up with a safe way for the town's children celebrate.
With parades and and hayrides out, the CDC is advising some moderate-risk possibilities such as "one-way" trick-or-treating by having individually wrapped goodies ready to go (as long as those preparing them take proper sanitary precautions), or small open-air gatherings using socially distancing protocols and masks for parties and movies.
Other options are one-way mazes and haunted forests -- but stay farther away than 6 feet if there's screaming involved -- and visiting pumpkins patches and orchards.
The lowest risk? Things you can do at home like decorating, carving pumpkins, movie night and scavenger hunts. Walk around the neighborhood and look at other homes' decorations and have a virtual costume contest.
The main takeaway is to continue to social distance, wash your hands and wear a mask (but don't overmask by placing a costume mask over your cloth or paper one).