Local cities release guidance, events to celebrate Halloween safely amid COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 4:23 PM, Oct 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-23 06:12:46-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Despite the pandemic canceling many things, Halloween may not be one of them!

Cities across Hampton Roads have released guidance on how to safely celebrate Halloween amid the COVID-19 pandemic.


The City of Norfolk encourages individuals to follow the Norfolk Health Department guidelines for safe and healthy Halloween activities.

The city has categorized events by risks:

Norfolk says those who choose to trick-or-treat should follow mask use, social distancing, and the following recommendations:

  1. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past ten days, or have been in contact with someone with COVID in the past 14 days, follow VDH guidance to stay home and away from others. If you are self-isolating or self-quarantining, do not participate in trick-or-treating this year, and look for other virtual options to celebrate.
  2. Maintain at least six six feet of distance between yourself and others who do not live in your household at all times.
  3. Wash your hands before going trick-or-treating or handing out candy. Hand sanitizer should be used while trick-or-treating or handing out candy when soap and water are not available.
  4. Wear a cloth mask. Halloween masks may not fit snugly against the face and may not cover the nose and mouth. Halloween masks with gaps and holes do not protect against inhaling respiratory droplets from other people. Cloth masks should be worn under costume masks to keep a close fit over your nose and mouth. Ensure that any cloth mask worn under a costume mask does not inhibit the ability to breathe easily.
  5. If you hand out candy, consider setting up an area outside, like a folding table or chairs, to setout candy. Space out the placement of treats so that multiple people do not have to reach into the same bowl or find contactless ways to deliver treats, like a candy chute that is more than six feet long. For trunk-or-treating, create distance between cars by parking in every other space.

Along with trick-or-treating, Norfolk is pleased to host several safe substitutes to traditional activities so you can still have a scary good time! Zoo Boo, the annual Virginia Zoo event, will take place on October 24 and 25 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is limited and advanced ticketing is required.

Norfolk Police, Norfolk Public Library and Recreation, Parks and Open Space will host a drive-thru Trunk or Treat, October 24 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Lake Taylor High School. Costumes and care decorations are highly recommended. Everyone must remain in a vehicle and walk-ups are not permitted. Registration is required.

Organizers in Suffolk say that Halloween will certainly look and feel different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Suffolk, trick-or-treating is for those ages 12 and under, and trick-or-treating in the city ends at 8 p.m.

The city has even created several events that will help families celebrate the holiday in a fun and safe way!

James City Co.

James City County says unless CDC and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) issue a new guidance prior to the end of the month, James City County feels that those who want to participate in trick-or-treating should make that decision for their families. For those who choose to participate, James City County trick-or-treating hours will be 6-8 p.m. on Oct. 31 for children ages 12 and under.

Trick-or-treating is classified as a moderate to high risk activity, and the county says they share and encourage safe practices provided by the CDC and VDH. Households that do not want to participate should turn off their porch lights.

For general trick-or-treating tips, click here..

Newport News

The City of Newport News is advising residents to follow CDC and Virginia Department of Health (VDH) guidelines for Halloween activities this year in order to limit potential exposure to COVID-19.

Parks, Recreation & Tourism’s 10th Annual “Spooktacular” event is being modified this year and adding additional locations.

This year, Spooktacular is a drive-thru trunk-or-treat event taking place on Saturday, October 31 at any of the three community centers listed:

  • Denbigh Community Center, 15198 Warwick Blvd. from 12 p.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Brittingham-Midtown Community Center, 570 McLawhorne Dr. from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Doris Miller Community Center, 2814 Wickham Ave. from 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Newport News Public Library is also offering numerous virtual events every month including two in October that are Halloween-themed:

  • Fall Handprint Cards on October 22, 3 p.m. – Join on Facebook to learn to make autumn and Halloween handprint cards.
  • Owl-O-Ween Kids' Paint Night on October 27, 6 p.m. – Children of all ages can put on their best costume and join via Zoom to create a Halloween-inspired masterpiece! Registration is required and begins October 12. Limited to 40 participants. Program kits/supplies will be provided for registrants to pick up.

For those who choose to trick-or-treat, the Newport News City Code specifies that trick-or-treating is for children 12 years of age and younger and ends at 8 p.m.


City officials recently posted guidelines and a link from the CDC for safe trick-or-treating during the COVID-19 pandemic. In accordance with Portsmouth City Code, children 12 years old and under may participate in trick-or-treating from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m., Saturday, October 31.

The CDC recently released guidelines on Halloween, click here to view that. The Portsmouth Health Department encourages citizens to review and adhere to these guidelines to ensure the safety and well-being of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Portsmouth officials said citizens should be cautious when participating in holiday activities and special events in accordance with CDC recommendations, which include frequent hand washing and sanitizing, wearing face coverings, and maintaining social distancing as our nation and Commonwealth continue the fight against COVID-19.

Moderate risk activities from Portsmouth:

  • Participating in one-way trick-or-treating where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go while continuing to social distance (such as at the end of a driveway or at the edge of a yard). If you are preparing goodie bags, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after preparing the bags.
  • Having a small group, outdoor, open-air costume parade where people are distanced more than 6 feet apart
  • Attending a costume party held outdoors where protective masks are used and people can remain more than six (6) feet apart. A costume mask (such as for Halloween) is not a substitute for a cloth mask. 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. Do not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.
  • Going to an open-air, one-way, walk-through haunted forest where appropriate mask use is enforced, and people can remain more than 6 feet apart. If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.
  • Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, wearing masks is encouraged or enforced, and people are able to maintain social distancing
  • Having an outdoor Halloween movie night with local family friends with people spaced at least six feet apart. If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus. Lower your risk by following CDC’s recommendations on hosting gatherings or cook-outs

Portsmouth Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Services fully supports the CDC guidelines, along with our partners in the Portsmouth Health Department and adds that the fire stations will not be open to the public for festivities this year due to social distancing measures. In addition, the Portsmouth Police Department reminds residents that while having fun, make sure that all activities are in accordance with CDC guidelines.

Portsmouth will also offer a safe trunk-or-treat event Saturday, October 24 at 3 p.m.

The 2020 version is now a drive-thru event being held at I.C. Norcom High School, located at 1801 London Boulevard. As a drive-thru event, participants must be in a vehicle and in line to receive pre-packaged treats. Absolutely no walk-ups will be permitted.

Participants must enter the school’s parking lot from the High Street entrance. Free and open to all trick or treaters while supplies last. Ages 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

Due to COVID-19 precautions, wearing of masks is strongly encouraged and social distancing protocols will be observed. For more information, call Parks, Recreation and Tourism at 757-393-8481.