With San Bernardino County still struggling to escape from the state’s purple tier and modestly relax restrictions on restaurants, theaters, museums, gyms and worship services, county officials have expressed concerns about Halloween — and have offered guidance to help residents and businesses avoid practices that could lead to further spread of COVID-19.
“Halloween typically involves trick-or-treating, gathering with friends and neighbors, and visiting pumpkin patches and haunted houses,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Curt Hagman. “We unfortunately have already seen how get-togethers during the Fourth of July and Labor Day holidays led to noticeable increases in infection rates, so we are asking everyone to be extremely cautious this Halloween season. We are specifically urging residents to consider safer alternatives to traditional activities.”
The state currently forbids amusement park rides of any kind, along with other high-touch or close contact attractions such as haunted houses, animal rides, petting zoos, slides, bounce houses and ball pits.
To help residents consider alternatives to their usual Halloween activities, the county has produced guidelines explaining how activities such as trick-or-treating can be enjoyed safely, while also suggesting a variety of safer alternatives. It advises those who are feeling sick or may have been exposed to the virus, along with those at highest risk of serious illness (e.g., people who are immune-compromised, have pre-existing conditions or are age 65 or older) to simply avoid Halloween activities this year.
Trick-or-treaters are cautioned to wear masks, keep a six-foot distance from others, accept only wrapped candies and sanitize hands frequently. Residents handing out candy are urged use the same precautions and consider ways to distribute candy without creating crowds and to limit touching of candy, such opening candy bags and pouring out the contents upon a table so trick-or-treaters can select their own candy.
The guidelines include specific recommendations for parents of children planning to go trick-or-treating, as well as households that intend to hand out treats, and encourages residents to consider creative ways to safely dispense candy. It also lists a variety of activities that can provide safe alternatives to some common Halloween practices.
The county has also developed guidance for operators of pumpkin patches. Outdoor sales of pumpkins are allowed, and food, beverages, games, mazes and other activities can be offered under certain conditions. Pumpkin patch operators should contact the county with questions before opening.