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How to stay safe this Halloween, according to the CDC

Throngs of people cross the street in Salem on Friday afternoon. Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll and Governor Charlie Baker on Wednesday had implored the public to avoid the historic city for Halloween season.Erin Clark / Globe Staff

Though this year has been plenty scary already, Halloween is sure to be extra spooky with a number of restrictions in place.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines last month that discouraged classic door-to-door trick-or-treating and crowded parties usually associated with the holiday. The guidelines sorted activities into low-risk, medium-risk, and high-risk categorizations.

High-risk Halloween activities

On the no-no list: communal candy bowls and traditional trick-or-treating, which a number of Massachusetts towns are officially allowing but warning against, which others are canceling trick-or-treating entirely. The CDC also recommends people stay away from indoor haunted houses and parties, hayrides, and tractor rides with anyone outside their household, and travel that could potentially introduce the coronavirus to new communities.


Moderate-risk Halloween activities

Altered trick-or-treating efforts, using individually wrapped candies and distanced interactions, fall under the moderate-risk category. The best way to participate in the ritual is to set up grab-and-go goodie bags at the end of a driveway or yard, according to the CDC recommendation. Those preparing the bags should wash their hands for 20 seconds before and after touching the materials.

Open-air activities — group gatherings, costume parades, haunted forest walks, and pumpkin patch visits — are also deemed moderate-risk. Those who partake in the fall festivities should wear masks, socially distance, and sanitize.

And attendees at outdoor Halloween movie nights should leave plenty of space between themselves and other moviegoers if there’s going to be screaming. That way, it’s less likely others could be on the receiving end of flying infectious particles.

Low-risk Halloween activities

So what’s really safe? Virtual activities and a night spent inside.

Lower-risk activities include decorating, carving pumpkins with members of your household, self-run scavenger hunts, and movie nights.

About those costume masks…

Halloween costume masks worn during trick-or-treating or socially distanced costume parties are not a substitute for traditional masks that firmly cover the nose and mouth. A costume mask can protect against the spread of coronavirus only if it has two layers of fabric and does not any leave gaps.


Diti Kohli can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @ditikohli_

Diti Kohli can be reached at her @ditikohli_.