Trick-Or-Treating in the Age of Covid-19

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Hooray for Fall…?

Ah, October. The weather changes from unbearable to mostly bearable (it is Oklahoma, after all), coffee shops have started serving pumpkin-themed items, costumes and decorations are everywhere for the upcoming Halloween festivities… except this year is different. Thanks to Covid-19, Halloween won’t be any fun. Right? 

Not necessarily. With a few extra precautions and awareness, Halloween CAN still be fun and safe. If you are determined to make the rounds with your tiny candy enthusiasts, perhaps we can take a clue from history to learn how to do it with class.

We were born for this

I’m a child of the 80s, the age of urban legends telling of poisoned candy and razor blades in apples. It was part of the Halloween ritual for millions of Gen-X children that we were not allowed to eat any candy until it had been scrutinized and deemed safe by parents. We had candy rules, and we followed them. We can do this. This is not our first rodeo.

In the spirit of Gen-Xers making due in less-than-ideal circumstances, here are some tips for a safe pandemic Halloween. 

  1. Mask It Up!

We all know the Rules of Covid: Wear a mask, wash your hands, social distance. Halloween is perfect for this, because costumes are an integral part of the system. Sure there are people like me who work harder on finding a creative way to describe my non-costume than on actually making a costume (things I’ve been that don’t involve actually dressing up: Time Traveler from the Future blending in with Now and a Survivor of a Zombie Apocalypse who found clean clothes). But this is not the year for such creative laziness.

Make your mask work with your costume. Ninjas, animals, and comic book heroes are perfect for masks. Anything with 2+ layers of fabric that covers your face is a chance to look great while staying safe! Heck, even a printed image of your face is certainly weird enough to work as a Halloween costume (seriously, it’s very off-putting). 

And, as always, DON’T TOUCH YOUR FACE MASK.

2. Emphasize the Distance part of Social Distancing

I’ve been in neighborhoods where the hordes of children swarming from one house to the next is as intense as a black Friday opening at Best Buy. These kids are serious about their candy acquisitions! I get that, but this is the year to be more like a claustrophobic recluse. It’s best to keep the pack you travel in limited to people in your family or those you already spend a lot of time around. If you see a group at a house, hold back until they are finished and have moved on. The candy will still be there whether you are 1 foot behind or 15. This is the year to master patience.

3. Sanitize all the things

Candy comes individually wrapped. That means that before you tear into the sweet loot, take time to wipe down those wrappers with wipes or hand sanitizer. Most candy packages are sealed up enough to not be impacted. Wear gloves if possible when sorting through, and of course wash your hands often. 

Use discretion. If you see a house where an unmasked candy distributor is letting everyone stick hands into the bowl, maybe skip that one?

4. Safe Distribution of Candy is Essential

Here’s the key to all of this. The safest way to get through a pandemic is to limit contact with potential spreaders. The less hands that touch the pieces of candy, the safer it is. If the bag is ripped open, dumped into a container, and tongs or gloved hands are used to drop pieces into waiting bags, that cuts out all contact. Don’t let random strangers reach in and get their own. That’s waaaay too much contact. 

In fact, there are ways to reduce human contact even further. Dollar Tree has these amazing tongs shaped like skeleton arms that are perfect for scooping candy. You can put treats on sticks and put them in your yard, like a candy cemetery. If your porch is elevated, you can make a candy slide with paper tubes and slide candy down into waiting bags. Or, my personal favorite, create a catapult and fling candy at children in the yard. WIN-WIN!!

SAFETY FIRST; SAFETY LAST; SAFETY ALWAYS

In the end, we must all do our best to stay safe. Keeping our communities healthy is more important than accumulating large amounts of sugar, but I recognize that it’s been a hard year. In some ways these sacrifices can begin to feel like a bridge too far. So if you must get out, you must engage in festivities, remember: SAFETY FIRST. 

In the words of Seth Meyers of The Late Show, “Stay safe, wash your hands, wear a mask, we love you.”

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