There are safe ways to celebrate and enjoy a Halloween like no other


The holiday season is upon us and for the many children of greater Savannah, Chatham County and the world stuck in the house due to the coronavirus pandemic, Halloween could not come fast enough. But unlike in years past, Halloween is going to be different this time around.


With all of the restrictions on large gatherings, Halloween parties will be frowned upon (but most certainly not necessarily stopped from taking place) and the traditional outdoor activity of trick-or-treating seems to remain a good and socially-distant way to celebrate Saturday, Oct. 31.


How to be safe doing so is the question.


Along with the Center for Disease Control (CDC), doctors like Medical College of Georgia infectious disease physician Dr. Rodger MacArthur believe plans need to be made beforehand in order to safely enjoy the holiday. Halloween falling on a Saturday almost guarantees more children – as more than 650,000 have tested positive for COVID-19 since March, according to American Academy of Pediatrics – and their parents and guardians will be out and about this year.


Asked if he feels parents and kids should feel safe to trick-or-treat because of the use of masks and costumes, MacArthur, who is also a infectious disease physician at Augusta University Health in Augusta, the state’s only public academic health center said, "I do not believe that families should feel completely comfortable trick-or-treating during the current outbreak of COVID-19. The degree of risk depends on the specific events."


MacArthur mentioned large crowds where some people might not be wearing masks with their costumes as a particular risk. "Even riskier are crowded indoor events," he adds.


Along with social distancing, MacArthur lists cloth masks, planning virtual costume parties, choosing individually wrapped bags instead of singularly distributed candies and goodies, and avoiding trunk-or-treat events, haunted houses and crowded indoor parties as ways to reduce the chances of infection.


He recommends instead, visiting pumpkin patches or orchards to better remain socially distant while partaking in family fun.


The CDC has similar recommendations including attending outdoor parties instead of indoor ones. If attending a gathering indoors, do so for shorter periods of time and avoid attending multiple gatherings to reduce one’s risk. The CDC also recommends people with or exposed to COVID-19 to not host parties or attend parties or outdoor/indoor festivals.


As mandated by the city of Savannah, the CDC and most businesses, masks are recommended throughout the holiday season. The same goes for constant hand washing and use of sanitizer.


"The CDC guidelines are categorized as "lowest risk" to "highest risk," added MacArthur. "I do not know how aware the general public is of these guidelines, but I think that it would be important for readers and families around the country to be made aware of them.


"It is also important to be aware of any local, county, or state restrictions concerning these sorts of events."