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Trick-or-treating in 2020? As city, county officials ponder the decision, the CDC doesn’t recommend it

BUCKHANNON – City and county residents have questions about if and how trick-or-treating will proceed this year, but governmental officials don’t yet have answers.

At last week’s Buckhannon City Council meeting, councilwoman Pam Bucklew said she’s already received a number of questions from local people wanting to cobble together plans forspookiest night of the year, Oct.31, which falls on a Saturday.

“We need to make a decision about trick-or-treating because I’m already having people asking me, and a lot of people buy their candy and costumes ahead of time, and they want to know what to expect,” Bucklew told Buckhannon mayor Robbie Skinner.

She also asked about the prospect of staging a Veteran’s Day Parade in the city.

Skinner said neither item was on the Sept. 17 meeting agenda so would need to be taken up at a future meeting; the city’s next meeting is at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 1.

“Neither of those two items are on the agenda for discussion tonight, but I agree, we do need to monitor those two, and it’s possible between now and the next few weeks, the governor could also weigh in on those two issues as well, so we need to pay attention to what goes on at the Capitol,” Skinner replied.

The commission hasn’t discussed trick-or-treating yet either, and the item isn’t listed on its agenda for its next meeting Thursday, Sept. 24.

The city, however, did cancel a number of fall events at a previous Consolidated Public Works Board meeting, including Fall Fest, Children’s Fest, Truck Fest and the annual Trunk or Treat in the Public Safety Complex.

According to guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating and even trunk or treat events in parking lots are considered to be higher risk activities.

However, low-risk Halloween activities include:

  • Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household and displaying them.
  • Carving or decorating pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends.
  • Decorating your house, apartment, or living space.
  • Doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance.
  • Having a virtual Halloween costume contest.
  • Having a Halloween movie night with people you live with.
  • Having a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going house to house.

Moderate-risk activities include:

  • 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 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 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.

Higher risk activities the CDC recommends avoiding:

  • Participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door-to-door.
  • Having trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots.
  • Attending crowded costume parties held indoors.
  • Going to an indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming.
  • Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household.
  • Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgment and increase risky behaviors.
  • Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19.

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