Fall Holidays in a COVID World

In a world changed by the pandemic how can we still celebrate holidays safely?


Photo by Carlos Nunez on Unsplash

In 2019 over 70 percent of Americans celebrated Halloween

At this time of year Halloween costumes start to come to mind,  and plans for big family thanksgiving dinners are starting to be talked about. However in  the world we live in today, with seemingly every other sentence relating to the Corona-virus, how can we celebrate all these holiday traditions safely, and what will it even look like?

Going out and looking at Halloween decorations is a great way to get in the holiday spirit. (Courtesy of Lisa Wathen)

The Center for Disease Control has released informational guidelines and recommendations on how to minimize risk and get through the season as safely as possible. They list three classifications of risk for different activities, the first of these being Higher Risk Activities. On this list are activities like traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating, trunk-or-treating (treats are handed out from trunks of cars in parking lots), and going to indoor haunted house, as well as attending crowded costume parties indoors.

If you still want to participate in these activities there are alternatives in the Moderate Risk Category.  One way trick-or-treating is a viable alternative where treats in goodie bags are left at the end of a driveway and can be picked up by by families while continuing to socially distance. If you still want to have a Halloween party with friends and family, have it outdoors where people can remain 6 feet apart and wear masks. The CDC states that costume masks are NOT a viable substitute for a cloth mask. The CDC website further instructs, “A costume mask should not be used unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around the face.” Instead, consider using a cloth mask made of Halloween fabric.

The safest options are under the Lower Risk activities. In this category are things such as having a virtual Halloween costume contest, doing outdoor Halloween decoration scavenger hunts around your neighborhood, and carving pumpkins outdoors with family and friends at a safe distance. The key points to remember for all these options is that if you choose to go to interact with people outside your household, wear a mask properly and make sure it follows CDC guidelines, stay 6 feet away from people, and use hand sanitizer before and after touching objects that would come into contact with other people (ex. railings, doorknobs, handles on utensils).

“I’m planning on going to my boyfriends house” said Grace McGonagle, a local high school senior. ” We can’t trick-or-treat because we’re older, and his neighborhood is discouraging it this year, but we are planning to help set up candy to facilitate socially distant trick-or-treating for the younger kids”.

Having Halloween parties outdoors is a great way to minimize risks. (Courtesy of Lisa Wathen)

Thanksgiving is a family and friends oriented holiday filled with busy activities but it’s important to know how to continue to remain safe and healthy. Higher risk activities include going shopping in crowded stores; this applies to leading up to Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving Day, and of course the American time honored tradition of Black Friday, participation or attendance to crowded races, and attending crowded parades.

More Moderate Risk Activities include having a small outdoor dinner with family and friends who live in your community, attending small outdoor sporting events with safety precautions in place, and visiting pumpkin patches and apple orchards (make sure that hand sanitizer is used before and after touching anything that is available to the public, and that mask wearing and social distancing are still practiced).

Being outdoors still offers lots of opportunities to have fun with friends and family. (Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash)

There are still plenty of Low Risk ways to celebrate the holiday too, such as preparing meals and delivering them to friends and family in a way that doesn’t involve contact with others, having online dinners with family and friends who don’t live in your community, shopping online instead of in person, and viewing parades, sporting events, and movies from home.

Jack Seftas, a  Junior at Lafayette had the following to say about how he’ll be spending the holiday. “Thanksgiving for my family isn’t intended to be too different from any normal year. Typically we go to my Grandma’s for Thanksgiving and occasionally local family members will come over, however, it could just be my parents, myself, and my Grandma”.

The important things to remember throughout this challenging time is to stay within your community, travelling especially to more rural areas is putting that community at risk, wear a mask, and practice social distancing. Even though there will be many more challenges still to come from 2020 it’s important to put in the effort to still find ways to connect with the important people in our lives.