The Halloween spirit is here and while Halloween might look a little different than in previous years with social distancing and masks, there’s still many opportunities to have fun with the whole family. Whether parents decide to take their kids trick-or-treating or not, it can still be a memorable evening full of home-made Halloween snacks and spooky stories!

Dr. Anthony Ani, chief medical officer at Banner Children’s at Desert and Banner Children’s at Thunderbird, said because many traditional Halloween activities can pose a high risk for COVID, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidelines for Halloween activities, breaking them into three categories: lower risk, moderate risk and higher risk.

“Traditional trick-or-treating where kids go door-to-door where somebody is handing out candy could pose a high risk for spreading the virus,” Dr. Ani said. “Other higher risk Halloween activities include attending large costume parties where it may be crowded.” Dr. Ani said another higher risk activity includes hosting “trunk or treat,” where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in parking lots.

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Some moderate-risk activities include hosting a small group, outdoor, open-air costume parade with social distancing, or attending a costume party if held outdoors and protective masks are worn. Lower risk activities listed by the CSC include decorating your house or organizing a virtual Halloween costume contest.

If parents want to take their kids trick-or-treating, Dr. Ani recommends those who are giving out candy to prepare individual goodie bags to set out in the driveway or outside the door to reduce physical contact and maintain social distancing.

In addition, wearing a protective mask is also a good idea if trick-or-treating is part of your family’s Halloween celebrations.

“Wearing a Halloween-themed mask may be a good way to enjoy the Halloween season with the costumes,” Dr. Ani said. “It’s not advisable to wear a Halloween costume mask because they may not be protective. A protective mask should have two layers of fabric and should cover the nose and mouth.

“Wearing a costume mask over the protective cloth mask may also pose a difficulty with breathing and make it difficult, so this is not advisable,” Dr. Ani said. Those taking their kids out trick-or-treating are advised to wear a protective mask as well, maintain social distancing from other groups and keep your group small.

If families don’t want to go out trick-or-treating, some low risk Halloween activities Dr. Ani recommends include carving and decorating pumpkins with members of the same household or outside at a safe distance with neighbors or friends.

“They can also enjoy a Halloween-themed movie night at home with members of the same household, and they can do a scavenger hunt or trick-or-treat around the house,” Dr. Ani said.

If celebrating at home, other activities include DIY Halloween crafts, games and making a tasty themed treat such as ghost cookies, caramel apple s’mores and brownie bat truffles.

“While there’s a pandemic, we still have an opportunity to enjoy Halloween and families should look for opportunities to have a fun filled activity at home, but if you’re going out, they should consider safety measures to ensure that their kids remain safe and they’re not spreading the virus,” Dr. Ani said.