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In Boston, Walsh urges caution in Halloween trick-or-treating

Halloween decorations at a home on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Mayor Martin J. Walsh is encouraging residents to take extra precautions if they decide to go trick-or-treating this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement Tuesday, Walsh urged residents to trick-or-treat only with immediate family members, avoid direct contact with individuals passing out candy, adhere to social distance guidelines, use hand sanitizer, and wash hands before handling treats.

Walsh also continued to implore people to wear masks, stating that a costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth one. For folks handing out treats, Walsh’s office recommended setting up a station outdoors with “individually wrapped goodie bags."

“Halloween is one of the best nights, and what’s most important this year is that any person participating in activities does so in a way that is safe for not only themselves, but also their neighbors and community,” said Walsh in a statement.

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He also urged residents to avoid gatherings.

Boston authorities are encouraging celebrations that involve people who live in same household, are outdoors, and allow for social distancing.

Walsh’s announcement comes days after Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll and Governor Charlie Baker implored the public to avoid the historic city in the run-up to Halloween. Those officials said there will be early businesses closings, significant parking restrictions, and no traditional holiday events during the last two weekends of October in an effort to thin out crowds.

During his handling of the pandemic, Walsh has not balked at nixing large-scale and popular events. He canceled the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade in the early stages of the coronavirus public health emergency. The parade, considered to be the city’s largest annual party, can draw a million or more revelers to Southie’s sidewalks, barrooms, and house parties.

This year’s Boston Marathon was at first delayed and then canceled for the first time in its 124-year history. The iconic race draws more than 30,000 runners from around the world. Organizers instead offered a virtual marathon this year. The race generates about $200 million in tourist spending each year and roughly $40 million in charitable donations, while drawing more than a million spectators.

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During the summer, the annual Fourth of July concert and fireworks display that draws a half million people to the Charles River Esplanade was also canceled. The decision marked the first outright cancellation of the concert since it began in 1929; the firework display was added in 1974. The date has occasionally been moved or the event abruptly cut short due to weather conditions.


Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.