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As the traditional Halloween day quickly approaches on Saturday, October 31, many citizens have questions regarding Halloween activities this year. If no new COVID-19 guidance is issued by the Governor, Halloween will be observed in Douglas and Coffee County. However, it is strongly urged for parents and neighborhoods to use COVID-19 safety guidelines for Halloween activities and trick-or-treating this year. Wear cloth masks, wash hands or use hand sanitizer, and maintain social distancing.
“This year, Halloween and trick or treating will be different,” says City Manager Charlie Davis. “We strongly recommend parents follow CDC guidelines for trick or treating. We do not want to see our COVID-19 numbers begin to rise following Halloween.”
Any person who has COVID-19 or may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, should not participate with in-person Halloween festivities and should not give out candy to trick-or-treaters. According to the CDC, citizens are urged to be cautious if participating in moderate risk activities such as:
- 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 second before and after preparing the bags.
- Having a small group, outdoor, open-air costume parade where people are distanced more than 6 feet apart. As of September, 30, 2020, Georgia guidelines prohibit gatherings of more than 50 people.
- Attending a costume party held outdoors where protective masks are used and people can remain more than 6 feet apart. As of September, 30, 2020, Georgia guidelines prohibit gatherings of more than 50 people.
- 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. As of September, 30, 2020, Georgia guidelines prohibit gatherings of more than 50 people.
- If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.
CDC guidelines do not recommend participation in high risk activities such as 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.
Concerning mask wearing, the CDC recommends costumed participants do not use a costume mask (such as for Halloween) as a substitute for a cloth mask unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers your mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around your face. Do not wear a costume mask over a cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.
In the Douglas city limits, trick-or-treating should take place between the hours of 6:00pm – 9:00pm. Homeowners participating in candy distribution are urged to turn porch lights on. If distributing candy, homeowners should wear gloves and masks. It is also recommended that children not be allowed to touch containers filled with candy. In order to minimize traffic in the Golf Club neighborhood, traffic will flow one-way on October 31, during trick or treating hours. Homeowners should make arrangements to travel to their homes based on traffic flow in the neighborhood from 6pm-9pm and follow directions of the police officers directing traffic. The Douglas Police Department asks that parents do not allow their kids to be out past 9:00pm so that residents in participating neighborhoods will not be disturbed past nine o’clock. As a precaution, prior to trick or treating, parents may wish to go to the GBI sex offender website, http://state.sor.gbi.ga.gov/Sort_Public/OffenderSearchResults.aspx to be familiar with the residences of registered sex offenders.
Homeowners should turn off their porch lights at 9pm, as a way to discourage late trick-or-treating. Drivers are urged not to impede the flow of traffic on neighborhood streets. Halloween participants are asked to show courtesy and respect to neighborhoods. Also, motorists are advised not to impede traffic flow by parking vehicles on public streets and sidewalks. The Police Department also asks drivers not to park on the grass and in the yards of homeowners. Motorists may be cited for violations.
For alternative ways to celebrate Halloween and other holidays safely this year, visit the CDC website, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html.