Health department suggests safety tips during the pandemic
While it could be argued Halloween has lasted year-round in 2020 since everyone has been wearing a mask, Oct. 31 is approaching.
And that means the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department is providing guidance to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and keep the season from being truly scary.
As expected, trick-or-treating is one of the traditions that cannot occur as it usually would this Halloween.
However, Public Health officials provided a “modified” trick-or-treating plan involving ideas such as tongs or grabbers to avoid direct contact with candy, grab-and-go bags, and hanging candy from streamers and six foot tables from the door to ensure physical distancing, with families “watching from the porch.”
“Traditional trick-or-treating will not be an option for kids this year,” Public Health Director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso said at the COVID-19 virtual press conference on Friday. “If you choose to pass out candy, consider a plan for social distancing and not directly touching the candy.”
She said face coverings need to be worn correctly and costumes shouldn’t obstruct wearing a proper face covering. She encourages parents to decorate face coverings together with their children and to establish ground rules for social distancing.
“We highly encourage everyone to celebrate creatively without gatherings,” Dr. Do-Reynoso said. “You can do this (trick-or-treat), but do it moderately, and make sure that you do it safely by restricting your movement and avoiding crowds.”
In a statement released on Thursday, Dr. Henning Ansorg, the county’s public health officer, provided guidelines for this year’s Halloween.
He reminded the public that gatherings are still prohibited, and suggested other ways to celebrate Halloween, such as watching Halloween movies at home, having a Halloween movie night at drive-in theaters, a virtual costume party, virtual craft projects and contests, or “reverse trick-or-treating,” which involves dropping gift bags or candies on other people’s porches. He also suggested “trunk or treating,” which is distributing candy in cars spaced out, and car parades where participants throw candy from vehicles or a socially distanced costume parade.
Dr. Ansorg didn’t strictly prohibit trick-or-treating itself, but suggested a face covering as part of costumes. He advised against ringing doorbells or knocking on doors, and he suggested letting the treats sit for 24 to 72 hours after returning from trick-or-treating before handling or consuming.
In light of this modified holiday, County Supervisor Gregg Hart announced a county-wide virtual Halloween costume parade that will be televised on Oct. 31.
Mr. Hart, chair of the Board of Supervisors, encourages parents to send photos of their kids ages 0 through 17, and/or pets, dressed up in their 2020 costumes. Only select photos will make the cut.
To be considered for airing in the virtual parade, email a photo by Oct. 28 to email@example.com, including first name(s) and age of those featured in the photo, residing city or town, full name of a legal parent or guardian and permission stating, “I authorize the attached photo(s) to be included in a broadcast on the County of Santa Barbara YouTube channel, website and Facebook.”
The video will be broadcast on Channel 20, as well as the county’s YouTube website and Facebook page.
“Halloween must look different this year, but we want to help our kids show off their costumes and creativity safely,” Mr. Hart said.
Along with a virtual parade, the Santa Barbara Zoo is providing an outdoor, COVID-19 compliant “Spell-ebration” open to the public called “Spooky Zoo,” from Oct. 16 through Oct. 31.
Guests can visit the zoo and are encouraged to wear costumes, as they enjoy “frightfully fun” decor and themed photo opportunities with their favorite animals. The zoo will also sell treats and “boo-zy” adult beverages.
Online reservations are required, along with face coverings. Visit https://reservations.sbzoo.org/Info.aspx?EventID=3 to make a reservation.
Additional coverage on Spooky Zoo will follow in the News-Press.
To view the Halloween trick-or-treating guidelines in full, visit https://publichealthsbc.org/.