With Halloween fast approaching, Bucks County officials have released guidelines to keep kids safe while trick-or-treating during the coronavirus pandemic.
In a release Monday, the county health department announced several precautions parents and children should take during the holiday to avoid contract COVID-19.
While trick-or-treating, children should remain outdoors at all times to lower the risk of transmission and remain in small groups to make it easier to social distance, health officials said.
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If unable to social distance 6 feet apart, kids should wear face coverings since most Halloween masks will not protect against the virus. Anyone who does trick-or-treat should avoid coming into 6 feet of contact for more than 15 minutes with anyone who lives outside their household, officials said.
Those handing out candy are advised to wear a face covering and remain outside at all times. Trick-or-treaters and those handing out candy should use hand sanitizer frequently.
Officials health also urge against attending costume parties or other large indoor gatherings, especially when alcohol is present.
Like other Halloweens, trick-or-treaters should use flashlights to remain visible to vehicles and other groups.
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The recommendations from Bucks officials come after The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its holiday guidelines late last month.
The CDC advises people to avoid high-risk activities such as hayrides, traditional trick-or-treating, and indoor costume parties, and instead participate in low-risk activities such as decorating one’s house, having a Halloween costume contest online, and decorating pumpkins outside.
Local officials across the country have been working to adjust to the new guidelines by changing community events or canceling them altogether.
In some states, Halloween parades and trick-or-treating events have been canceled due to local gathering limits imposed after a resurgence of new cases of COVID-19. Some cities even tried issuing an outright ban on trick-or-treating because social distancing would be near impossible if hundreds of children took to the streets at the same time.
As of Sept. 28, more than 7.2 million Americans have been infected with the novel coronavirus and over 208,000 have died.
In Bucks, there have been 8,425 confirmed and 641 probable cases while there have been 99,657 negative cases as of noon Sunday. During that span, there have been 617 deaths attributed to the virus in Bucks, according to the state’s COVID-19 database.
In neighboring Montgomery County, there have been 12,464 confirmed and 53 probable cases and 151,530 negative cases. Meanwhile, there have been 883 deaths associated with the disease.
State figures show 158,663 confirmed and 5,544 probable cases as well as 1,940,952 negative cases. There have been a total of 8,216 deaths statewide as of noon Sunday, according to the dashboard.