Is Halloween cancelled? No, but the CDC says these 6 activities are high-risk

Is Halloween cancelled? No, but the CDC says these 6 activities are high-risk
(Image credit: Getty)

The coronavirus pandemic has so far put a spoke in the wheel of many celebrations and events, leaving plenty of us to wonder, is halloween cancelled this year? Well, the CDC has now weighed in with some well-timed advice, and the short answer is no, Halloween isn’t cancelled. However, to help slow the spread, the CDC is asking us to avoid certain Halloween activities this year, and you may need to pack a reusable face mask and some hand sanitizer in your pumpkin pail too. 

“Many traditional Halloween activities can be high-risk for spreading viruses,” the CDC stated in its new COVID-19 and holidays advice. “There are several safer, alternative ways to participate in Halloween.” To help slow the spread, the CDC is asking people to avoid these six Halloween activities, which it considers to be higher risk:

  • Taking part in traditional trick-or-treating, where treats are handed to people who go door-to-door.
  • Having 'trunk-or-treat', where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in parking lots.
  • Attending crowded costume parties held indoors.
  • Going to an indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming (think airborne transmission).
  • Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household.
  • Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area where COVID-19 is spreading.
  • Using alcohol or drugs, which can increase risky behavior.

In line with previous advice from the CDC and the World Health Organization, being mindful of coronavirus transmission rates in your area will help you to figure out which Halloween celebrations are safe for you and your family. If COVID rates are high where you live, any activity that puts you in direct contact with people outside of your household will result in a higher rate of exposure.

Halloween pumpkins wearing protective face masks

(Image credit: Getty)

It should also go without saying that, if you have coronavirus symptoms, or if you have recently been exposed to someone who is infected, you shouldn’t be taking part in any in-person Halloween activities. A new cough, fatigue and fever are the most common COVID symptoms, and the latter can be monitored by using one of the best digital thermometers or by touching your forehead with the back of your hand.

Halloween activities the CDC considers moderate risk

If you are symptom-free and aren’t considered at higher risk from the coronavirus, you can still go out to celebrate Halloween but you’ll need to take precautions. That includes adults and children (over two years of age) wearing face masks in indoor events or at outdoor events where it’s hard to maintain social distancing. 

A costume mask is no substitute for a medical mask or cloth mask. If you have time, you could learn how to create a homemade face mask and give it a Halloween theme. Don’t forget to pack hand sanitizer that’s at least 60% alcohol either, as you’ll still need to practice good hand hygiene. 

According to the CDC, these Halloween activities are considered moderate risk:

  • Taking part in ‘one-way trick-or-treating’, where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab (such as at the end of a driveway or at the edge of a yard). Wash your hands thoroughly before and after making goodie bags.
  • Having a small, outdoor costume parade where people are socially distanced (more than six feet apart).
  • Attending a costume party held outdoors where protective masks are used and people can remain more than six feet apart. 
  • Going to a one-way, walk-through haunted forest (not a haunted house) where mask use is enforced. If screaming is likely, the CDC advises staying more than six feet.
  • Having an outdoor, socially distanced Halloween movie night (weather permitting).

A woman carves pumpkins outside

(Image credit: Pexels / Gabby K)

Halloween activities the CDC considers lower risk

It comes as no surprise that the CDC considers any Halloween activities carried out in your own home, with members of your own household, to carry the lowest risk this year. The health organization has even conjured some ideas of how you can safely celebrate Halloween at home, including:

  • Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household
  • Doing the same but outside, at a safe distance, with friends and neighbors
  • Having a virtual Halloween costume contest
  • Having a trick-or-treat search with members of your household in or around your home (so, avoiding going to other houses)

If you do venture out this Halloween, be mindful of whether you're likely to come into contact with any vulnerable family members of friends afterwards. To be on the safe side, the CDC recommends leaving it for 14 days before visiting any person considered to be at higher-risk of severe illness from the coronavirus. 

Three easy ways to celebrate Halloween at home

The CDC guidance is clear for Halloween, but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate in style indoors. Pumpkin carving is a brilliant tradition, but if you’d rather not get messy in your kitchen or on your porch, try these other fun and spooky ways to celebrate Halloween at home… 

Scary movie marathon
Thanks to the pandemic, most of us are now on first name terms with our TV, so why should Halloween be different? If you have little ones at home, kick-start your scary movie marathon with kid-friendly classics. If you don't own any, fire up the best TV streaming services and get your fill. Hulu has plenty of child-friendly movies streaming now, including Ghostbusters and Casper, as does Disney Plus.

Once the little ones have gone to bed, dim the lights and turn to Netflix for modern and vintage horrors, including 80s creep-fest Poltergeist, while HBO Max is home to An American Werewolf in London.

Bake and decorate Halloween cakes and candies
Halloween is also the perfect time to dust off your stand mixer and get baking. Our best KitchenAid deals can make that a little easier if you're in need of a mixer. From eyeball cake pops to ‘bloody’ (jam) cupcakes, there are plenty of ways to add a gruesome spin to your dessert table this Halloween. There’s plenty of inspiration online too, with some of our favorites including these Spiderweb Cupcakes, which require only a handful of ingredients and are easy enough for kids to make too. 

Make your own Halloween decorations
This is fun for adults and kids alike, as you can let your imagination take over. Whether you prefer working with pencils and paper, or you can’t be torn away from your sewing machine, there's no shortage of DIY decorations to be made. For decorating your porch and yard, think about mystical crystal balls and pumpkin topiaries. You could also artfully arrange old bedsheets, transforming them into ghosts that float outside your home. Oprah magazine has some great ideas.

Looking for more health content? Open enrollment is now upon us, so take a look at our guides to the best health insurance companies and the best Medicare Part D plans to see how they could support your health needs. 

Claire Davies

Claire is Health and Wellness Editor at Top Ten Reviews and covers all aspects of health, wellbeing and personal care. With over 17 years' experience as a qualified journalist, writer and editor, Claire has worked across some of Future's most prestigious, market-leading brands. Due to past struggles with insomnia, she is particularly passionate about the role quality sleep plays in our physical and mental health, and loves helping readers to sleep better. Claire is always keen to hear from brands regarding products and services that can help readers feel healthy, happy and empowered.