Saturday, December 4, 2021

Trick-or-Treating in East Lansing given the green light by public health officials

October 15, 2020
A drive-thru Halloween (Illustration by Daena Faustino).
A drive-thru Halloween (Illustration by Daena Faustino). —

As it creeps into mid-October and prime fall weather, Halloween moves closer and closer. Orange pumpkin-shaped buckets and pillow cases full of candy are on trick-or-treaters minds as they pick their costumes – Freeform's "31 Nights of Halloween" playing in the background. With the threat of COVID-19 still present in East Lansing, the chances of a Halloween with trick-or-treating happening this year were low.

But, with a green light by public health officials, East Lansing will not cancel trick-or-treating. However, new guidelines are in place to enforce social distancing.

A press release from the City of East Lansing reminds residents that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, have identified the traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating as one of the higher-risk COVID-19 spreading holiday festivities.

Residents are encouraged to view the CDC's guidelines to find more protected alternatives to celebrate with.

Because the act of trick-or-treating is not a City-sponsored event, but rather a personal choice, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, or MDHHS, made a list of safety tips for parents and children who choose to head out:

  • Talk with children about safety and social distancing guidelines and expectations
  • Keep a 6-foot distance from others not in your group
  • Participate in one-way trick-or-treating and guide children to stay to the right to ensure social distancing
  • Trick-or-treat with people you live with only
  • Avoid congregating in groups around houses
  • Wear a face mask that covers BOTH your mouth and nose — a costume mask is NOT a substitute for a medical-grade or cloth mask
    • Do not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask if wearing both causes difficulty breathing — instead, consider wearing a Halloween-themed protective cloth mask
  • Only go to houses with safety measures in place
  • Check out halloween2020.org to find exciting activities and ways to celebrate Halloween this year based on levels of COVID risks in your area.

MDHHS has also curated recommendations for homeowners who choose to pass out candy:

  • Wear a face mask that covers BOTH your mouth and nose
  • Use duct tape to mark 6-foot lines in front of your home and leading up the driveway to the garage or front door
  • Position a distribution table between yourself and trick-or-treaters
  • Distribute candy on a disinfected table to eliminate direct contact
  • Consider handing out candy in an open space where physical distancing is possible, rather than from the front door
  • Wash hands often
  • Consider a neighborhood costume parade — "it's an easy way to keep safe space between children," they stated.

The recommendations also said that homeowners who do not feel comfortable distributing candy should keep their porch lights turned off.

MDHHS encouraged residents to host virtual Halloween parties instead of in-person.

Indoor social gatherings are currently restricted to no more than 10 people from different households, per one Ingham County Health Department, or ICHD, executive order. Outdoor social gatherings in a large part of East Lansing are currently restricted to no more than 25 people, per a second ICHD executive order.

All gatherings, regardless of the space they're in, must be designed to ensure that people from differing households maintain social distancing measures of 6-feet. MDHHS also recommends having food and party favors set out individually to prevent cross-contamination and that hosts provide multiple stations of hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Each set of guidelines requested that trick-or-treaters stay home if they, or someone in their household is experiencing symptoms or were recently exposed to the virus and have yet to get tested.

Activity hours are currently expected to remain in place from 6-8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 31, Halloween night.

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