New Hanover County health expert gives guidance on Halloween celebrations

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — On Tuesday the CDC released guidance on Halloween during COVID-19, discouraging families from trick-or-treating. Now a local health expert is weighing in.

New Hanover County Assistant Health Director Carla Turner says whatever families choose to do, safety should be top priority.

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“What we’re doing is we’re asking residents to participate in any activities they choose to do as safely as possible and following the three W’s,” she said. “Wearing a mask, waiting six feet apart, and frequently washing hands.”

Families across the Cape Fear may have to think twice before they trade in their COVID-19 masks for Halloween masks and go trick-or-treating. The CDC has officially declared the tradition a high-risk activity.

“You’re having a close, less than six feet interaction, I’m grabbing my bucket and going into my bucket of candy and handing a candy from my hands,” Turner said. “Am I able to wash my hands between each child coming to my door? That might be a little much to ask.”

Turner says putting candy in a bowl could also be dangerous, as multiple kids will be sticking their hands in the bowl.

However, that doesn’t mean Halloween is canceled. The CDC has released a list of lower risk activities families can participate in. Family-owned Halloween and More, open year round despite the name, has been visited by customers who are planning alternative celebrations.

“We’ve had a few families come in and tell us that they’re not going to take their kids out this year, but they’re deciding to do scavenger hunts in their houses,” said employee Mackenzie Estes.

However, not all families want to change their plans this year. One family visiting the store said they plan to trick-or-treat despite the pandemic.

“We’re going trick-or-treating, we love it,” said parent Amber Carroll. “I understand the COVID and everything going on, but it’s about the kids.”

For those die-hard trick-or-treaters, Estes says some customers are getting creative.

“We’ve had one customer come in and tell us that he has a steep staircase and that he has built a ramp onto it that drops the candy at the bottom for the kids,” she said.

Putting socially distanced treat bags out is another option, as long as hands are washed before and after putting the bags together.

These masks double as Halloween costumes and PPE.
(Photo: Matt Bennett/WWAY)

Some new Halloween masks this year were designed with COVID-19 in mind, functioning as personal protective equipment. However traditional masks won’t cut it alone.

“They have those areas that allow you to breathe, so that’s not going to cut down on transmission,” Turner said. “So yes, you would have to have a face covering on under that Halloween mask.”

Click here for the CDC list of lower, moderate, and higher risk Halloween activities.