VOICES: Trick-or-treating during a pandemic — How do we stay safe?

Category:  Opinions
Wednesday, October 28th, 2020 at 1:00 PM
VOICES: Trick-or-treating during a pandemic — How do we stay safe? by Emma McNeeley
Photo: Pexels.com

Imagine: Halloween night.

It’s a Saturday, so being up late, watching movies and eating candy is no big deal. There’s a big full moon outside, setting up the mood for the night. But then, as if it was too perfect...BOO!...a pandemic swoops in, germs are everywhere and we have something much realer to fear.

With 2020 being turned on its head by COVID-19, something on my mind — and possibly many others — is Halloween. I have a younger sister who trick-or-treats: so, will it be allowed, and if allowed, how will we keep it safe?  

To answer the first question, it seems our region is “all systems go.” Erie News Now has a list of trick-or-treat times that they’re continually updating for different counties. 

Edinboro will be hosting trick-or-treating from 6-8 p.m. on Halloween.

Although we have the green light for people to dress up their kids and get candy, I feel as though there are many parents — including my own — who still have concerns. The old-school myth and fear was always razor blades or poison in your candy. However, with a pandemic ongoing (and with cases rising locally and nationally), there’s a whole new set of real-world fears to contend with. 

How will you know that people just dumped the candy in a bowl, washed their hands before touching it, and didn’t cough or sneeze in the general vicinity? Then there’s the mask issue. Plenty of costumes can incorporate masks (although perhaps not covering the mouth), but some kids may be annoyed wearing them, and some adults might not even wear them despite possibly running into other families. There’s also the belief that if you’re outside you do not need a mask. You even see this misconception on our largest national stages (the White House Rose Garden event now considered a super-spreader).

It’s arguable that cancelling trick-or-treating would be the safest idea. And I think it might be better to cancel it. How about this? To be safe, everyone should buy bags of their favorite candy, put on their favorite movies, and eat and binge watch all night long. As a kid, I’m sure I would’ve been upset, however parents are the ones who should know what’s best for the safety of their kids. Generally, they do whatever they can to protect  their children, so why risk putting them in unnecessary harm just because it’s a holiday?

In my home, I have a dad with asthma, and my mom, though she hasn’t had a problem with her heart since she was four and had surgery, still gets quite sick with just with the flu. As much as I love going out with my sister to trick-or-treat, I’m not sure either of us want to risk bringing it home for a few Kit-Kats. However, my mom has faith that with us wearing masks, being distant and sanitizing, we can keep it safe and fun. So, we’ll see.

Families this year are going to be faced with a challenge on how to make the holidays as safe as possible. To make Halloween safe, you need everyone to be fully “in” on being safe, and that’s the biggest challenge.

There’s the challenge of handing out candy. I’ve seen people leave a bowl out in past years and greedy little kids empty it. So, if everyone were to leave a bowl out, you may have to sit behind the glass or screen door and wave hello to prevent this. However, even if you left a bowl out, you can’t rely on kids to grab one single piece and not touch the other candy before another kid does. Asking my dad, he said he’d feel safer wearing a glove and a mask to hand out an individual piece to each kid so they don’t spread germs to one another.

One creative dad in Cincinnati, Ohio actually painted a six-foot shipping tube black and orange, so he could send down candy safely to trick or treaters this year.

Then there’s the issue of the trick-or-treaters participating. Small kids are going to run up to doors, get too close to others, and might not wear a mask. Every child would have to wait their turn to keep a distance, while incorporating masks into their costumes.

Hershey Happiness, a site for the candy company Hershey’s, has worked to provide tips to safely trick-or-treat this year. This includes staying home if you’re sick and trick-or-treating with people you live with. When near other people, they remind you to stay 6 feet apart, to wear a face mask, and to carry hand sanitizer that has a 60% alcohol content. 

It also lists ways for others to hand out candy and advice for parents. 

Adults will have to do the same and lead by example, which has been an issue (just look at any of the viral videos of people freaking out in stores for having to wear one). So, the fate of everyone’s health and what they do is up to them. I personally recommend putting on a costume and eating candy at home with family, or if you’re going out, try to follow safety guidelines and don’t rely on others for your safety.

Emma McNeeley is the News Editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com.

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