ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Halloween is known to be the holiday where people dress in fun costumes, trick-or-treat and stuff their bellies full of candy.
But along with other holidays and events this year, Halloween 2020 will look a little different.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is encouraging Americans to avoid trick-or-treating to prevent the spread of COVID-19, saying its “high-risk."
The CDC wants people to avoid other “high-risk” spooky festivities such as:
- Having trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots.
- Attending crowded costume parties held indoors.
- Going to an indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming.
- Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household.
- Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgment and increase risky behaviors.
- Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19.
Also, according to CDC guidelines, parents should note that the Halloween version of a mask should not replace a cloth mask unless the Halloween mask has multiple layers over the mouth.
Instead, health officials are encouraging participating in “low-risk” activities such as:
- Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household and displaying them.
- Carving or decorating pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends.
- Decorating your house, apartment or living space.
- Doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance.
- Having a virtual Halloween costume contest.
- Having a Halloween movie night with people you live with.
- Having a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going house to house.
In Southwest Georgia, city and county officials agree that it’s important to follow the CDC guidelines to stay safe from the coronavirus.
Treat-or-treating is canceled this year in the City of Adel, according to a post by the police department.
Residents are encouraged to not open businesses, churches, or residences to give out candy.
In Albany, Police Chief Michael Persley said precautions must be taken to keep children, as well as adults safe.
“Halloween will be much different this year, and it has to because we do not want to see an uptick in COVID-19 cases. Parents should consider fall festivals where all precautions such as social distancing and wearing face-covering measures are in place or have a small family gathering at home," Persley said. "We want everyone to have fun, but more importantly, we want everyone to be safe and healthy.”
The City of Albany and police are encouraging residents to follow the CDC guidelines by avoiding door-to-door treat or treating.
Valdosta will celebrate Halloween with a community event. FestiFall will be held in Valdosta on Oct. 29 on the grass lawn across from City Hall from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
The City of Valdosta will also observe trick-or-treating on Oct. 31 from 6-9 p.m.
The city also offered safety tips while out in the community:
Lights on or lights off
- If you would like to participate in trick-or-treating traditions of handing out candy, please leave your outside lights on as an indicator that you are providing treats.
- If you wish to not participate in handing out treats, please consider turning your front lights off as an indicator to trick-or-treaters that you are not participating.
- If your children are participating, please avoid residences that do not have their exterior lights on.
Giving out treats
- Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer often.
- Avoid having kids grab treats from bowls. Get creative. Maybe consider grouping candy in goodie bags that trick-or-treaters can take with them.
- Keep your distance when giving out treats
- Consider trick or treating with your household instead of large groups this year.
- Wear reflective clothing.
- Wash hands before eating treats.
- Bring hand sanitizer and a flashlight.
- Avoid homemade treats – eat only factory wrapped candy.
- Do not participate in trick or treating if you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19.
This year, it’s important to wear a face-covering or mask while out trick-or-treating. Consider making that part of your child’s costume or decorate masks specifically for Halloween.
Valdosta city officials want residents to adhere to the social distancing guidelines while out and about. This recommendation also includes limiting the number of people gathering in one single location.
This is a developing list. We will update this story as we learn about Halloween plans in the WALB viewing area. You can read the CDC’s guidelines for celebrating Halloween and other holidays here.