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Michigan issues guidance on Halloween amid pandemic

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Halloween, from a distance, is still possible in Michigan. 

State health officials issued guidance Thursday on how families can safely celebrate Halloween during the coronavirus pandemic. The state is encouraging alternative ways of celebrating this year, but also issued guidance should residents decide to trick-or-treat.

The bugs come out at night: Bob Kowal built an insects-gone-wild-inspired front yard Halloween display in Clinton Township.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says those who are ill should remain home and everyone should maintain social distancing of at least six feet, wear a cloth mask that covers both the mouth and nose, wash hands often, or use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

“The way we celebrate Halloween in Michigan will be different this year due to COVID-19,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “However, there are still many ways to celebrate safely. The guidance MDHHS issued today provides tips for trick-or-treaters and their parents along with homeowners who wish to hand out treats.” 

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also issued recommendations this week and considers trick-or-treating a high-risk activity. The CDC suggests families think of alternative activities such as pumpkin carving, decorating, making candy goodie bags, and hosting a scavenger hunt.

Should people choose to trick-or-treat, the health officials recommend parents share with children that this year may be different than last and that new ways of celebrating can still be fun.

The Romeo Community Center, operated by Romeo-Washington-Bruce Parks and Recreation, hosts activities including Halloween costume parties.

"Talk with children about safety and social distancing guidelines and expectations. Keep a six-foot distance from others not in your group," state health officials said. "Participate in one-way trick-or-treating and guide children to stay to the right to ensure social distancing."

The state said people should trick-or-treat with people you live with and avoid congregating in groups around houses.

A costume mask does not substitute for a cloth mask. However, children should not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because wearing both could cause difficulty in breathing. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.

Only approach houses with safety measures in place and check out Halloween2020.org to find activities and alternative ways to celebrate Halloween. 

Tips for homeowners

  • Use duct tape to mark six-foot lines in front of your home and leading to the driveway/front door.
  • Position a distribution table between yourself and trick-or-treaters.
  • Distribute candy on a disinfected table to eliminate direct contact.
  • Consider handing out candy in an open space where distancing is possible, rather than from the front door.
  • Consider a neighborhood costume parade; it is an easy way to keep safe space between children. 

The guidance also urges Michigan residents to consider hosting virtual parties instead of in-person Halloween gatherings. If a gathering is hosted, it should be limited to 10 people or less according to Executive Order 2020-176, social distancing should be maintained, cloth masks should be worn and food and party favors should be set out individually to prevent cross-contamination. 

As of Thursday, Michigan's total number of COVID-19 cases reached 119,597 and the death toll hit 6,700.

In the last week, the state had 4,210 cases and 62 deaths from the virus.

srahal@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @SarahRahal_