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Halloween 2020

Recommendations to Reduce the Risk of Spreading COVID-19


Halloween brings neighborhoods and communities together. While we do not want to discourage the fun, there is a higher risk of spreading COVID-19 as groups get larger and gather for a longer period of time.

Although trick-or-treating interactions door-to-door are typically quick, they involve close and frequent contact. Often, many kids and families gather at doors or on sidewalks. The more households visited, the greater chance that germs can spread and linger.

It might be manageable to keep your own children six feet from others with their masks on, but with many children roaming, sidewalks and doorsteps could get full. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Johnson County Public Health has suggestions for having Halloween fun but avoiding Halloween quarantine.

  • Lowest risk - celebrating virtually.
  • More risky - small outdoor costume parties with individuals from a few households who stay six feet apart, wear masks and do not share objects.
  • High risk - medium-sized or large in-person indoor celebrations where it is difficult to stay 6 feet apart.

No matter how you choose to celebrate Halloween this year, Johnson County Public Health wants you to keep the following in mind:

  • If you are sick, or you have been in contact with someone who is sick with COVID-19 or has symptoms of COVID-19, stay home.
  • Wear a mask over your mouth and nose. A Halloween mask does not offer appropriate protection.
  • Avoid small spaces that do not allow for distancing of six feet.
  • Stay at least six feet away from those who do not live in your home.
  • Wash or sanitize your hands often.

If participating in traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating this year, please follow these recommendations:

  • If handing out treats, review these recommendations, put them into place, and prominently display JCPH's 2020 Halloween pledge poster outside of your home.  The poster tells trick-or-treaters you are following public health recommendations to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 this Halloween.  You can print your poster here.  Scroll down to the bottom of this web page to view the cool Halloween 2020 pledge poster!
  • Limit groups to those in your household or the bubble/pod you have been physically distancing with during this time. Multiple kids and families meeting up to go together, and staying close together for hours, means possible higher transmission of COVID-19.
  • Though packaged Halloween goodies that have been touched by others could pass the virus, this is less likely. It is the closeness of multiple people for extended periods of time that is more worrisome. Take hand sanitizer with and use it frequently.
  • Those handing out the goodies should arrange to maintain six feet from trick-or- treaters by using a table, markings on the grass or pavement, or a barrier line of pumpkins or other decorations. Children can hold up their bucket or bags while you toss a treat their way or have individual bags or cups ready for contactless pick-up on a table while you wave from the garage or porch.
  • If an area or street is particularly busy, choose another spot.
  • Look ahead and see if those handing out goodies are wearing a mask and distancing. Skip that home if they are not following these guidelines.

Recommended alternatives to traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating this year:

  • Set up a drive-in theater and show spooky movies.
  • Encourage outdoor/home/yard art installations/decorations that the community can drive past to enjoy. Post pictures on social media and vote for favorites.
  • Set up online parties and contests for creative costumes, pumpkin carving, or decorations.
  • Host a vehicle parade. Households could decorate their cars and dress in costumes. A designated judging area could be set up with judges distanced from the vehicles. Each family, one at a time, could get out at this stopping spot and show off their costumes. Other spectators would have to wear masks and maintain physical distanced.  Kids could pick up a ready-made treat bag filled with goodies from area businesses and residents.
  • Trick-or-treaters could stand outside of homes on the front porch, steps, or yard while those neighbors handing out the treats could walk the sidewalks or drive by. It becomes a reverse trick-or-treat parade when treats are tossed at the kids. Alternatively, families could set up a fun display to catch the treats or place a bucket or bag at least six feet away from the children to collect goodies.
  • Since adults can more responsibly stay distanced, hold a backwards trunk or treat where kids are in the tailgates, hatchbacks and trunks of vehicles.  Then, the adults can deliver the treats to drop in their buckets/bags.  Participants should physically distance from the other vehicles, wear masks, and make sure the treat distributors are keeping their spacing when moving around to the trunks.

Let’s make this a Halloween where new traditions and memories are created as safely as possible.

CDC Halloween Guidance
Print/PDF version of Halloween 2020 recommendations.


Halloween 2020 pledge poster