In a year that's been plenty scary, this much is clear: Pandemic Halloween will be different than regular Halloween. Many traditional ways of celebrating are now considerably more frightful than usual, because now they bring the risk of spreading the coronavirus.
Classic door-to-door trick-or-treating and crowded costume parties are not recommended.
The higher-risk category includes both door-to-door trick-or-treating and events where kids get treats from the trunks of cars in a big parking lot. Also high-risk are indoor haunted houses where people will be crowded and screaming, which could send infectious particles flying. Going on hayrides with people who aren't in your household or fall festivals in rural areas also carry a risk of spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.
Instead, trick-or-treaters could pick up individually wrapped gift bags at the end of a driveway or yard while, still preserving social distance.
You could also organize a small outdoor costume parade where everyone is 6 feet apart. An outdoor costume party would also be considered moderate risk, as long as people wear masks and stay 6 feet away from each other.
Apple picking and pumpkin patch risks can be reduced if people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or apples, wear masks and maintain social distance.
If you want to be really safe, then you should plan for either virtual activities or ones that you do largely with your own household.
Lower-risk activities include carving pumpkins with your household, or outdoors with friends while socially distanced. A Halloween scavenger hunt looking for witches, spiderwebs and black cats outside houses while walking around — or a scavenger hunt for treats in your own home are also low-risk.
A costume mask is no substitute for a cloth mask, but don't double up with one over the other because that can make it hard to breathe. Instead, consider a Halloween-themed cloth mask. A costume mask can protect against spreading the coronavirus if it has two or more layers of breathable fabric covering the nose and mouth, without gaps around the face.
If you think you might have COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone who does, don't attend in-person Halloween activities and certainly don't hand out candy to trick-or-treaters.