ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, MD — Masks used to be reserved for Halloween. Now, they are part of daily wardrobes.
With coronavirus lingering in Anne Arundel County, health officials discourage traditional trick-or-treating. Anybody who believes they have coronavirus or thinks they were exposed to the disease should stay home, the county Department of Health says.
“Unlike Dracula and The Mummy, COVID-19 is real,” Anne Arundel County Health Officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman said in a Tuesday press release. “To protect trick-or-treaters and avoid the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses, we must continue to maintain physical distance, wear face coverings, avoid large gatherings and wash hands often.”
Those who choose to go trick-or-treating can reduce, but not eliminate, their risk by traveling only with members of their household, the Department of Health says.
No laws prohibit trick-or-treating in Maryland, but the state requires mask usage in all public places. This includes busy streets on Halloween.
County health officials remind residents that costume masks are not as protective as face coverings. Costumes have breathing holes, which could expose trick-or-treaters to coronavirus.
The Department of Health also warns residents that wearing cloth face coverings underneath costume masks could dangerously limit breathing. Trick-or-treaters shouldn’t share masks, fangs, or similar objects, the department noted.
“I know it will be difficult for children and families to celebrate in a way we aren’t used to, but the health of our communities depends on us doing our part to prevent the spread,” Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman tweeted on Tuesday.
The Department of Health offered additional tips to avoid spreading coronavirus while trick-or-treating.
Halloween Health Tips
Bring alcohol-based hand sanitizer when trick or treating.
Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth, as germs can spread that way.
Children should not reach into candy bowls or bags. Candy should be given out using a scoop or tongs, so the candy is not directly handled.
Consider providing individually wrapped goodie bags on a table at the edge of the driveway or yard. When preparing and handing out treats, be sure to follow proper hand hygiene.
Avoid parties and party games like bobbing for apples or other activities that might involve sharing items that have come into contact with other people’s mouths or noses.
When returning home with treats, children should wash hands properly with soap and water before eating anything.
Health officials also ranked Halloween festivities by risk, asking residents to avoid the high-risk activities. The department urges celebrators to look into lower-risk options where mask usage is enforced. It also recommends staying at least 6-feet apart at events where screaming may occur.
Here are the Department of Health’s rankings:
Note: Trunk-or-treats are events in parking lots where kids collect candy from parked cars. Trunk-or-treating replicates the door-to-door interactions of traditional trick-or-treating, which also takes place outside. That may make trunk-or-treating comparably risky to trick-or-treating.
Halloween movie night outdoors with local family and friends
Outdoor, open-air costume parade or party in small groups