Heading to a Halloween party this weekend? Health experts say use caution to slow pandemic spread

Posted at 6:40 AM, Oct 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-29 07:33:18-04

Halloween on a Saturday?! It's an opportunity kids and adults get only once every few years.

The beginning of 2020 came with dreams of day-long Halloween celebrations, parties going late into the night and a chance to sleep in and recover the next day.

Then COVID-19 hit, and health experts say that means plans have to change.

"I get it. This stinks. Everyone wants Halloween to be fun, especially when it falls on a weekend like this," said Dr. Eric Madren, a physician with Volvo Medical Associates, a Bayview Physicians Group practice. "(But) Halloween the traditional way we think of it would really be the perfect situation for spreading the virus rapidly through the community."

October 31 comes as most of the country is seeing a spike in new COVID-19 cases.

Hampton Roads has been largely spared thus far. Madren says his practice hasn't seen a new positive case for weeks now, but it won't take much for things go south either.

A quick search on Facebook brings up Halloween celebrations scheduled at bars and clubs across the region.

The Virginia Department of Health says gatherings that can become crowded fall under the 'Highest Risk' category for potentially spreading the coronavirus.

"If you're getting together with other people it should be in very small numbers, outdoors and maintaining distance," Madren said.

Traditional trick-or-treating with no masks or distancing is also considered of the highest risk.

While children may not be as likely to develop severe COVID-19 symptoms, Madren tells News 3 it won't take much to pass the virus to someone who would be more likely.

"Coming up with creative ways we can do it differently this year, still have fun and make it safer is in the best interest of everyone," he said.

When in doubt, Madren says trust your gut. If you enter a party or are trick-or-treating and it doesn't feel safe, it probably isn't.

Click below for resources to help you celebrate Halloween safely:
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Halloween 2020 guidelines
Virginia Department of Health (VDH) Halloween 2020 guidelines
COVID-19 Halloween guidance by city