How to Trick-or-Treat, celebrate Halloween amid the coronavirus pandemic in Central Texas


Jessie Street decorations (KXAN Photo/Todd Bailey)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Long before the COVID-19 pandemic made us second-guess nearly every aspect of our lives, the 2020 calendar looked like tons of fun since every holiday seemingly fell on weekends.

Take Halloween, for example. It was perfect: families wouldn’t have to worry about trick-or-treating on a school night since it fell on a Saturday, and they’d get an extra hour of sleep the following day because of Daylight Saving Time.

However, the pandemic threw a wrench into everything, including the time-honored traditional of walking around the neighborhood in a great costume getting candy from people.

As far as trick-or-treating during the pandemic goes, agencies like Austin Public Health are encouraging families to “get creative” and find a way to celebrate instead of trick-or-treating.

Dr. Mark Escott, APH’s interim health authority, and APH Director Stephanie Hayden showed off their “Halloween piñatas” during the agency’s weekly COVID-19 briefing Wednesday.

“You can get your frustrations out by beating this piñata,” Hayden said, as she held up a virus-like shaped piñata.

Dr. Escott said trick-or-treating presents a “substantial amount of risk,” and he hopes families will adjust their holiday celebrations like they did for the Fourth of July. He also said if enough people find alternative ways to celebrate that including social distancing, the COVID-19 forecast for Thanksgiving could look better.

In some Texas counties, like El Paso and Hidalgo Counties, traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating is prohibited this year due to COVID-19 surges. Officials said they aren’t banning it in all forms. They’re hoping some alternative forms happen, like “trunk-or-treating,” where individually-wrapped bags of candy are placed in car trunks and kids get candy from there.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people “plan alternate ways to celebrate Halloween.”

One of their suggestions is to hide candy around the home or yard, similar to an at-home Easter egg hunt, or have a costume contest outdoors. Experts also suggest going out to a one-way corn maze or haunted forest, but make sure people keep a distance of six feet between them and everyone else. As always, the CDC recommends people wear a mask and wash their hands several times during whatever it is they choose to do.

In September, the CDC put out a ranking system of different types of Halloween activities and their risk levels when it comes to spreading viruses.

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