With a number of major Fall holidays fast approaching over the next few months, it doesn't seem as though the coronavirus pandemic is going to let up. For the first time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidance for how to safely celebrate Halloween, Día de los Muertos, Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping.
By categorizing activities into lower, moderate and high risk activities, the CDC said it has provided "several safer, alternative ways to participate" in the upcoming holidays.
All guidelines from the CDC are meant to "help protect individuals, their families, friends, and communities from COVID-19." However, the agency said the guidelines should supplement, not replace, "any state, local, territorial, or tribal health and safety laws, rules, and regulations with which holiday gatherings must comply."
Remaining socially distant, wearing a mask and washing hands are all essential to reducing the risk of being exposed to the virus.
One thing is abundantly clear: If you may have been exposed to COVID-19, stay home. "If you may have COVID-19 or you may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should not participate in in-person Halloween festivities and should not give out candy to trick-or-treaters," the CDC stressed.
Door-to-door trick-or-treating, attending crowded costume parties or haunted houses, going on hay rides and traveling to fall festivals not in your community are just a few of the "higher risk activities" that the CDC said Americans should avoid this year.
The "lower risk activities" from the CDC during Halloween include carving pumpkins with your household or while practicing social distancing with neighbors and friends, decorating your home, creating a scavenger hunt either inside your home or outdoors looking for Halloween-themed items from house to house. Also suggested is having a virtual Halloween costume contest or a movie night with the people you live with.
For those looking for a more traditional Halloween experience, the CDC has recommended several modifications to traditional trick-or-treating. These alternative activities are viewed as "moderate risk activities." The CDC says you can organize "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)." The "one-way" model is also suggested for haunted forests, where mask use is enforced and more than six feet of distancing is advised. Other Halloween ideas from the CDC include: holding an outdoor and distant costume parade, visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where hand sanitizer is used before touching items.
When planning any activity this holiday season, the CDC recommends taking several factors into account including community levels of coronavirus, duration of the gathering, size of the gathering, where people are traveling from and the behaviors of attendees.
Día de los Muertos
Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a multi-day Mexican holiday from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2 where people pay tribute to friends and family members that have died. The CDC recommends low-risk activities during this time which include enjoying music, food, making an alter or even decorating masks from your home. Moderate risk activities would include having a small group gathering outdoors, where 6 feet of distancing can be maintained. High risk events include attending large indoor celebrations with singing and people from various geographic locations.
Thanksgiving and Black Friday
While Thanksgiving for some is synonymous with big groups of friends and family joining together, this year's celebrations may need to look a lot different.
For the lowest risk, the CDC suggests having a small family dinner only with those in your household.
Additionally, the CDC says Americans should avoid in-person Black Friday shopping at "crowded" stores. Instead, the agency suggests shopping online for all those holiday presents.
Thanksgiving activities deemed as a moderate risk by the CDC include hosting small outdoor family dinners with family and friends.