The autumn season is always a bit depressing in general — summer’s over, school starts again, wildfires spark up and then there are upcoming midterms — but there are a few undeniable upsides: for one, a day of free candy for all who dress up (and those who show up as “themselves”) on the fabulous, goofy and fun-filled holiday of Halloween.
And this year, Halloween is on a full-moon Saturday with an extra hour due to daylight savings time. I mean, c’mon! That could have been the best night of trick-or-treating ever. And by now, this is just rubbing salt in the proverbial wound of all the things we’ve missed out on this year.
If you haven’t figured it out already, because of COVID-19 (or at least because some people in the U.S. can’t seem to just wear their masks and stay inside), trick-or-treating isn’t much of an option this year.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, Halloween “will likely need to be different this fall to prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.” The guidelines state that trick-or-treating door to door is classified as a “higher risk activity” that should be avoided. Also slotted under “higher risk” are indoor haunted houses (especially if people are screaming, as it allows COVID-19 germs to spread even further) and crowded indoor costume parties.
That makes sense: Trick-or-treating, which is when you walk around and interact with nearly every neighbor and child down the block, is basically the definition of super-spreading. All the other events listed under “higher risk” involve crowds and in-person social interactions, which are all definitely COVID-19 hazards.
Trick-or-treating, which is when you walk around and interact with nearly every neighbor and child down the block, is basically the definition of super-spreading.
But is there any way for trick-or-treating to still be possible this year? Sure, but it’ll be pared down and contactless. Obviously, everyone needs to wear masks, and you should probably just go by yourself (meaning you shouldn’t be hanging around other people). Consider purchasing one of those Frozen-themed masks that I’ve been seeing in the Safeway checkout line. Or, go as a ninja/Darth Vader/any character whose costume comes with a mask. However, according to Sandra Kesh, M.D. and infectious disease specialist, if you’re in an area with ongoing COVID-19 spread, don’t go trick-or-treating at all.
And for those wondering if they should put a bowl out (like you did last year if you were too lazy to get up off the couch to answer the doorbell every five minutes) … definitely don’t. First, there is the issue of getting COVID-19 germs on the bowl and the candy itself. According to the National Institutes of Health, coronavirus particles can remain infectious on plastic for up to three days — and that includes candy wrappers along with the plastic bowls you use to put them in. So having groups of kids rummage through the same candy bowl is almost as bad as letting them talk to all the neighbors without masks. Also, this isn’t related to COVID-19, but you do know that the first person who stumbles across your bowl is just going to take all the candy, right?
But if you really want to do something this year, CDC guidelines also suggest organizing a one-way trick-or-treating lane with individually wrapped goody bags lined up on the curb or at the end of your driveway. This prevents the spread of COVID-19 by helping people social distance and minimizes contact with others. The guidelines also note that if you’re preparing the bags, you should wash your hands thoroughly beforehand. Also, if you think you might have COVID-19, don’t prepare any bags (obviously).
So, in the end, is it really worth it to go through that much trouble? For me, probably not. If you really want that free candy, just go to Safeway, buy a cheap $5 bag of candy and eat it all. Or, in lieu of trick-or-treating, consider safer Halloween activities, like pumpkin carving (but stay away from pumpkin patches, especially if you see that they are crowded), making Halloween-themed treats, decorating your house with Halloween decorations and watching a horror movie.
For fellow Gauchos in Isla Vista, restrictions and police roadblocks will likely put a damper on the typical Halloween parties (which definitely shouldn’t be happening, especially during a pandemic). So stay at home and do some fun Halloween activities with your roommates, or check out Delirium, a virtual event held by the Associated Students Program Board that will be happening via Zoom on Oct. 30-31.
And to be extra thorough, I wanted to see the effect that not being able to go trick-or-treating would have on kids (the only people who can respectably go trick-or-treating. Let’s be honest, if you’re over 18, you should be the one handing out the candy, not receiving it). For my very scientific research study, I polled the two actual kids in my house. With a solid sample size of two, when the kids were asked what they thought of not being able to go trick-or-treating, I got mostly variations of “I don’t care” and “leave me alone.”
So maybe people aren’t all that downhearted about missing out on trick-or-treating this year.
Christine Tu loves free candy but wants to tell everyone to not be stupid and just stay home (and watch a horror movie or something).