Does it seem like there are more Halloween decorations in your neighborhood and around town than ever before?

That’s called over-compensating, I think.

Did we even try to Halloween last year? I don’t remember.

In a few days, children all around the country are going to be out and about picking up free treats from neighbors and shops. There will once again be laughing and running around and happy kids enjoying the holiday that sort of signals the coming of winter.

And, hopefully, everyone will be wearing a mask, though not necessarily a Halloween mask.
While people around the country try to find a way back to pre-pandemic normal, it is still a dangerous world out there. The coronavirus has not backed off; we are just doing a better job of protecting ourselves from it.

We need to continue to protect ourselves as we go trick-or-treating.

The CDC tells us what to do

Over the past two years, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has become one of the most important federal agencies. Last year, the CDC basically cancelled Halloween, telling kids and parents that it was not wise to be socializing the way we normally do Oct. 31.

This year, with so many people vaccinated and so many people wearing masks all of the time, the CDC says we can go out and ring doorbells, but only if we do it wisely. The CDC recommends trick-or-treating outside in small groups and tells us to avoid crowded indoor Halloween parties.

We can do that, can’t we?

Dr. Fauci said we could trick-or-treat if we do it safely and thoughtfully. Here are suggestions the experts offer about how to make the most of your Halloween celebration.

Everyone should be in a mask

We need to remember that most children under 12 have not yet been vaccinated, so they need to do everything they can to avoid catching the virus. That means wearing a mask, but not a plastic face mask. If your child’s costume includes a character mask, have them wear a cloth mask under their costume mask, making sure the cloth mask sits over their nose and mouth as well. 

Parents are recommended to try to be creative with their children’s costumes this year. Find a way to integrate a medically approved cloth mask into the child’s costume theme. If that cannot be done, then you need to explain to them the value of having a mask on their face when they come near other children or homeowners who are handing out candy. Hopefully, the homeowners will be smart and have masks on themselves.

Also, it is safer to knock on a door than it is to ring a doorbell. The doorbell is a surface that is likely going to be touched by many people. (And our young ones often put their hands in their mouths without thinking.) Give a gentle knock on the door instead.

Wait to eat your candy until you get home

When I was young, I always waited until I got home to try out any of the candy I received, because I liked to dump out the contents from my Halloween bag on the floor and just gawk at all the great treats I picked up. Then I grabbed the first bag of M&Ms and got started.

This year, it is more important than ever to wait until you get home to sample your treats. The candies themselves are not considered a threat: officials say the coronavirus is very unlikely to be transmittable on the candy wrappers.

But, eating candy while you are out on the prowl for more candy means taking off your mask, and then putting it back on at the next stop. That’s just inviting trouble. Keep your mask in place and chow down once you are home, your parents have looked over your collection, and you can safely remove your mask (or masks).

It is also very important that you wash your hands before sampling your candies. While the candy wrappers don’t transmit the virus, you likely will touch a lot of surfaces on your Halloween hunt, and washing your hands is always a good idea after doing anything social.

The safe way to party, Halloween-style

Some people like to go overboard on Halloween and host parties for their kids and neighbors. That’s fine. They are usually a lot of fun because the weather is still nice and Halloween marks the beginning of a holiday season as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa approach.

But, don’t go to any parties that are held indoors. There is one detail of the coronavirus that has been true since Day One, and that is that you are safer outdoors than you are indoors. If the weather does not cooperate, you are better off not attending a party that is moved indoors.

Remember, too, to limit the number of people you are with at any one time. Remember when the original warning was to avoid crowds of more than 10? I get nervous if I am around more than four people at a time.

If there are a lot of people at a gathering you attend, be a social butterfly and go from small group to small group, or invite people to come out of one group just so you can say hi away from a larger crowd.

And then, there are those who….

We know there are people who are not vaccinated and don’t want to wear masks. It seems weird to me, but people have free choice, and I’m sure I do things that seem weird to others too.

If you approach a home and see that the family members handing out candies are not wearing a mask, it might be wise to skip that house. In California, you are not likely to run into many homes where the homeowners are not masked. Remember that they, too, might be worried about catching the virus. 

Some homes may put candy out in bowls instead of meeting you face-to-face. That’s OK, too. The candy wrappers are not contagious. Just don’t reach in when someone else’s hand is in there. 

We can have a safe and happy Halloween in 2021, and hopefully we can have an even more normal Halloween in 2022.

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