SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many of our social lives and upended our usual schedule of life events, including major changes to how we celebrate holidays.

But shouldn't Halloween, which by long tradition involves people wearing masks, be an easy one to navigate in the time of COVID-19? Not so much. In fact, Halloween comes with a unique set of challenges if you want to keep you and your family, friends and neighbors safe.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a set of guidelines for Halloween safety, ones echoed by state health departments, including the Minnesota Department of Health, which helpfully ranked activities according to risk.

The easiest set of general guidelines should be familiar ones:

  • Always wear a cloth mask.
  • Indoors or outdoors, stay at least 6 feet away from others who do not live with you.
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently.
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Here are somes Halloween-specific things to do, some things to avoid, and a list of activities ranked by potential risk of catching or spreading COVID-19:

Trick or treating

  • Avoid direct contact with trick-or-treaters, or those handing out treats.
  • Give out treats outdoors, if possible.
  • Set up a station with individually bagged treats to take.
  • Wash hands before handling treats, and for trick-and-treaters, bring hand sanitizer with you (at least 60% alcohol).
  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you get home and before you eat any treats.

A good rule to follow even without COVID -- only pass out and accept wrapped candy. Pixabay
A good rule to follow even without COVID -- only pass out and accept wrapped candy. Pixabay


  • A costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask.
  • Make a cloth mask part of your costume.
  • Don't wear a costume mask over a cloth mask, because it could make breathing difficult.
  • Masks should not be worn by children under age 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing.

Lower-risk activities

  • Celebrate at home with family: Decorate your home for Halloween. Carve or decorate pumpkins. Hid Halloween treats around the house and hold a Halloween treat hunt. Have a Halloween movie night with treats.
  • Celebrate outside: Do events an excursions with family, neighbors, and friends. Carve or decorate pumpkins outside. Hold a Halloween-themed scavenger hunt. Walk from house to house, admiring Halloween decorations from a distance. Hold an outdoor Halloween movie night.
  • Hold a virtual Halloween costume contest: Dress your best and arrange an online contest via your favorite video chat platform.

Medium-risk activities

  • Try no-contact trick-or-treating: Put treats in individual goodie bags and place them at the end of your driveway or at the edge of your yard for families to grab and go. Use hand sanitizer and wash hands.
  • Host an outdoor costume party, contest or haunted forest: So everyone can show off their costumes.
  • Visit pumpkin patches, haunted forests, orchards: Use hand sanitizer or wash your hands frequently, especially before touching pumpkins or picking apples. Look for one-way, walk-through haunted forests or corn mazes.

Avoid higher-risk activities

  • Trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go from door to door.
  • Costume parties or haunted houses held indoors.
  • Trunk-or-treating where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots.
  • Hayrides with people who do not live with you and fall festivals.