October 16, 2020

How to Have a Safe and Healthy Halloween During a Pandemic

The fall season is officially here, which means Halloween is right around the corner. For many, it’s a favorite pastime and one that will indeed look different this year as a result of COVID-19. 

“Many of the traditional Halloween activities we are accustomed to will need to be re-evaluated because of the pandemic,” said David Soo, MD, primary care physician at St. Joseph Medical Center. “But this doesn’t mean we can’t make Halloween fun; we just need to be smart and creative as to how we approach our celebrations.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued guidelines, outlining what it considers high risk, moderate risk, and low-risk activities:

Low risk 

  • Decorating and carving pumpkins at home with members of your household.
  • Decorating your home, yard, or apartment with fun and festive decorations. 
  • Hosting a virtual Halloween costume contest.
  • Getting together with friend and neighbors outside and carving or decorating pumpkins. 
  • Putting together a “fright fest” move night with members of your household. 
  • Organizing a scavenger hunt with candy instead of going house to house.


Moderate risk

  • Hosting a Halloween parade where people are socially distanced. 
  • Participating in a costume party outside where protective masks are being used, and people are socially distanced.
  • It’s important to note that plastic Halloween costume masks are not suitable replacements for cloth face coverings.
  • Setting up a grab-and-go style method of trick-or-treating where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to take while maintaining social distancing.
  • If you put together these goodie bags, remember to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds in soap and water. 
  • Going to an outside haunted house in a forest or field, wearing masks, and maintaining 6 feet apart. If screaming is going to occur, the CDC recommends greater distancing between participants. 
  • Going to pumpkin patches or orchard where people are being mindful about using hand sanitizer, wearing masks, and are following social distancing. 
  • Getting together with family and friends to do an outdoor Halloween movie night with proper face coverings and social distancing. 


High risk 

  • The most popular Halloween pastime of the trick-or-treating door to door is, unfortunately, a high-risk activity.
  • Hosting trunk-or-treat activities where children are lined up in large parking lots. 
  • Going to crowded, indoor costume parties or haunted houses. 
  • Participating in hayrides or tractor ride with people from outside your household. 


“If you suspect you or your child has COVID-19 or has been exposed to the virus, you shouldn’t participate in any Halloween-related activities,” said Soo. “We have made significant strides in the mitigation of the virus in Houston and need to continue on that current trajectory, especially as we head deeper into flu and cold season.”

For more guidance from the CDC on its recommendation for fall and winter celebrations, click here. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Soo, visit: