Waterloo and Marshall have both decided to hold trick-or-treat hours this month. The public health department urges those who are going house to house to get treats and those who will be handing out goodies to wear masks. Additionally, people should only trick-or-treat with members of their household and groups of trick-or-treaters should try to keep at least 6 feet from other groups.

In years past, dressing up with a mask for Halloween was a choice. This year, it’s mandatory.

As many wonder what the Oct. 31 holiday will look like in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic, local health officials have come out with guidelines and recommendations for celebrating safely.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) reported that practicing safe and healthy activities this Halloween is imperative for slowing the spread of COVID-19. DHS recommends people avoid large indoor gatherings and traditional trick-or-treating. Activities such as celebrating at bars and migrating from house to house to collect candy hold high potential for the virus to spread quickly, DHS officials said.

For those who still wish to celebrate, DHS suggests tapping into the creative side. Hosting virtual costume parties, hand-making decorations, baking festive treats and watching Halloween movies at home with family are all examples of what DHS deems as safe ways to participate in the holiday. As for trick-or-treating, DHS has ideas for that as well.

“If your community hosts trick-or-treating this year, do it more safely. Leave individual grab bags (or paper cups) filled with goodies outside your door for children to take. If you can, watch and wave to trick-or-treaters through a window. Or, leave Halloween treats outside the door where friends and loved ones live for a contact-free way of celebrating,” DHS stated on its website.

Waterloo has set trick-or-treat for 2-5 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 25 and Marshall will have the traditional activity from 4-7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 31

In the weeks leading up to Oct. 31, DHS encourages all individuals to obtain a flu shot. For those feeling unsure about the safety of their Halloween plans, DHS has developed an individual decision making tool accessible on their website. The tool is meant to help determine what is best for individuals and their families.

In conjunction with DHS, Public Health Madison and Dane County (PHMDC) has also released a statement regarding health and safety for the Halloween holiday. According to its website, PHMDC wants Dane County residents to know, “Halloween needs to look different this year to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.”

As for what specifically needs to look different, PHMDC recommends trick-or-treating only with people you live with and only in your own neighborhood, ensuring trick-or-treaters let their candy sit for at least two days before eating, and sanitizing hands in between each stop. For parents, PHMDC suggests reminding children to eyeball which piece of candy they want before diving in. This will decrease rummaging, and therefore limit the spread of germs.

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