Four states trick-or-treating during the pandemic

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Halloween Pumpkin Jack O’ Lantern Candy Bucket is covered with a face mask in this file photo. (Getty Images)

With Halloween just around the corner, so are the numerous spooky activities that come with the holiday. Among these activities is trick-or-treating, though this year will it be safe to take part amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic? 

Within the four states area, local towns and cities are taking precautions so that children and families alike can still experience their spooky season with a sense of normalcy. 

For Joplin, the City of Joplin does not set restrictions on trick-or-treating, so the decision is left to the discretion of the families. Lynn Onstot, City of Joplin public information officer, provided some suggestions for safe trick-or-treating this year. She suggested that for those trick-or-treating to first check if people in the area are participating, but also that if you or your children are sick or have been exposed to COVID-19 to stay home. She also wanted to remind kids to travel with a group and/or with parents, and since Halloween takes place on a Saturday she suggested kids think about going earlier in the day. 

There are also many alterative celebrations individuals could take part in in place of trick-or-treating, as Onstot discussed a few. She suggested hosting an outdoor party so that social distancing can more easily be followed, with various activities like pumpkin carving or a costume contest. Another reason Onstot suggests hosting an outdoor party is so that individuals interact with people they are usually around, instead of traveling from house-to-house for candy from those you’re not typically around. With that, Onstot suggested that everyone adhere to the safety guidelines currently in place, saying, “know who you’re taking your candy from.” 

Onstot mentioned that if individuals do host a party, it is advised to have a sign-in for guests in order to gather their contact information as a precautionary measure for potential contact tracing. For other events going on in the town, Onstot said she has not heard of trunk-or-treat or other related events yet, though some local churches or other organizations may hold some. 

In Carthage, their City Hall said they are not participating in trick-or-treating this year. Though, the Carthage Chamber of Commerce said “Treats on the Square” will take place October 29 from 3-5 p.m. where kids can trick-or-treat from participating businesses on and off the square. The Chamber commented that they have not heard of trunk-or-treat or related events planned for this year yet. 

The Crawford County Health Department released specific recommended guidelines for Kansas residents to follow, such as those who live in Pittsburg. They do not recommend that individuals take part in trick-or-treating and instead suggest alternatives similar to Onstot’s suggestions. These alternatives include online parties or costume contests, car parades, Halloween movie nights at drive-in movie theaters, decorating homes or yards with Halloween decoration, and others. Timothy Stebbins, Crawford County Public Health Officer, commented on their precautionary health measures. 

“Halloween is approaching and we want to let the public know we are following the KDHE guidelines for celebrating,” Stebbins said. “It is important to us that we are able to keep our community open and safe, and to do that we must make smart choices. Masks and hand sanitizer are recommended. It is important to remember that groups of people must stay socially distanced. For the safety of our community, if you are sick please do not break the rules and go out, as it may lead to devastating effects on our community.” 

The Crawford County Health Department further recommends social distancing and wearing face coverings, especially if individuals do choose to participate in trick-or-treating, trunk-or-treating, or other related activities. They suggested incorporating face coverings into costumes this year and to not accept perishable items or candy from a communal bowl. More details on the guidelines from the Crawford County Health Department can be found on their website

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