Prisma Health pediatrician says trick-or-treating can be done safely with caution

Published: Oct. 30, 2020 at 6:52 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Saturday, October 31 is the big day for candy, scary movies and creative costumes. This year, as we celebrate Halloween in the middle of a pandemic, some are wondering what this means for trick-or-treating.

WIS-TV spoke with Prisma Health pediatrician, Dr. Deborah Greenhouse. She says after so many events and traditions had to be canceled this year, trick-or-treating is an outdoor event that can be done relatively safely.

The key, she says, is that this year cannot be the large neighborhood gatherings you may be used to. Instead, she says families should stick together and not combine with other groups. Dr. Greenhouse recommends staying six feet apart as each family approaches each house. She also suggests that those handing out the candy sit outside of the home.

“Trick-or-treating in the typical sense of large groups of kids marauding around the neighborhood and ringing bells as a large group, that’s a really, really bad idea, this year, but very small group trick-or-treating may be reasonable in a neighborhood that doesn’t have a whole awful lot of people trick-or-treating,” said Dr. Greenhouse, who added that the best plan of action would be, “each family goes on as their own individual group, stays together as their own individual group.”

Even outdoors, the pediatrician says everyone should be wearing a mask whether you’re trick-or-treating or passing out candy.

If you concerned about the chances of spreading the virus through the candy exchange, Dr. Greenhouse says, “There’s certainly still a lot that we don’t know about this virus. We do know that the predominant methods of spread appear to be droplet and aerosol spread, but there absolutely is some potential that contact, hand contact, that sort of thing can spread it, as well. That, touching objects could potentially spread it, as well. Although, that seems to be a much lower contributor to spread.”

Ultimately, the doctor says, “if parents are concerned, the candy gets put aside for a while before the kids actually get access to it. Put it aside for a few days.”

If the virus is present on the candy wrappers, after a few of days the virus would die off from those surfaces. Still, Dr. Greenhouse recommends getting a bag of candy for the night of so your trick-or-treaters are not disappointed.

For families who feel uncomfortable with going door-to-door because of COVID-19, the doctor suggests other ways of having some Halloween fun at home like with an at-home candy scavenger hunt, a scary movie night, or a virtual costume contest.

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