Fall Holiday Celebrations: Stop the Spread of COVID-19
The City of Alexandria and the Alexandria Health Department (AHD) strongly urge residents to choose lower risk Halloween and Dia de los Muertos activities this year to reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 outbreaks. There are many alternative options to celebrate Halloween and Dia de los Muertos while also maintaining a lower level risk of spreading COVID-19.
While Halloween is not a City holiday, the City has been notified that the annual community gathering on Lee Street and the Del Ray Halloween Parade have been cancelled for 2020.
Find more tips and guidance on gathering safely from the CDC.
AHD and the City highly recommend these Halloween activities, which are identified as lower risk by the CDC:
- Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household, or at a safe distance outside, with neighbors or friends
- Decorating your house, apartment, or living space
- Having a virtual Halloween costume contest
- Having a Halloween movie night with people you live with
- Having a scavenger hunt with your household members in or around your home
AHD and the City highly recommend these Dia de los Muertos activities, which are identified as lower risk by the CDC:
- Preparing traditional family recipes for family and neighbors, especially those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and delivering them in a way that doesn’t involve contact with others
- Playing music in your home to honor loved ones
- Making and decorating masks for loved ones
- Setting out pillows and blankets in your home for loved ones
- Joining virtual get-together celebrations
AHD and the City do not recommend these Halloween activities, which are identified as moderate risk by the CDC:
- Participating in one-way trick-or-treating where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up to grab and go while maintaining physical distance. If you are preparing goodie bags, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after preparing the bags
- Having a small group, outdoor, open-air costume parade where people are distanced more than 6 feet apart or attending a costume party held outdoors where protective masks are used and people can remain more than 6 feet apart
- A costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask, and should not be used unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around the face. Do not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. AHD recommends using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.
- Going to an open-air, one-way, walk-through haunted forest or Halloween movie night with local family and friends where appropriate mask use is enforced, and people can remain more than 6 feet apart.
- If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading COVID-19.
- Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people use hand sanitizer before touching or picking produce, wearing masks is encouraged or enforced, and people are able to maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance between people from different households
AHD and the City do not recommend these Dia de los Muertos activities, which are identified as moderate risk by the CDC:
- Having a small group outdoor, open-air parade where people are distanced more than 6 feet apart
- Visiting and decorating graves of loved ones with household members only and keeping more than 6 feet away from others
- Hosting or attending a small dinner with local family and friends outdoors where people are distanced more than 6 feet apart
AHD and the City strongly discourage these Halloween and Dia de los Muertos activities, which are identified as higher risk by the CDC:
- Traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating
- Trunk-or-treat events, where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots
- Attending crowded costume parties, or similar events, held indoors
- Having a large dinner party with people from different households coming from different geographic locations
- Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgement and increase risky behavior
Alexandria Police will be out to make sure trick-or-treaters have a safe Halloween night by enforcing violations involving speeding, stop signs and pedestrian cross walks during the evening. Follow these safety tips to help keep your child safe on Halloween:
- Go only to well-lit houses and remain on porches rather than entering houses.
- Travel in small groups and be accompanied by an adult.
- Know their phone number and carry cell phones for emergency telephone calls.
- Have their names and addresses attached to their costumes.
- Bring treats home before eating them so parents can inspect them.
- Use costume knives and swords that are flexible, not rigid or sharp.
Parents and adults should:
- Supervise the outing for children under age 12.
- Establish a curfew (a return time) for older children.
- Prepare homes for trick-or-treaters by clearing porches, lawns, and sidewalks and by placing jack-o-lanterns away from doorways and landings.
- Avoid giving choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies, or small toys as treats to young children.
- Inspect all candy for safety before children eat it.
- Parents and adults should ensure the safety of pedestrian trick-or-treaters
- Make sure children under age 10 are supervised as they cross the street.
- Drive slowly.
- Watch for children in the street and on medians.
- Exit driveways and alleyways carefully.
- Have children get out of cars on the curb side, not on the traffic side.
When walking in neighborhoods:
- Use flashlights, stay on sidewalks, and avoid crossing yards.
- Cross streets at the corner, use crosswalks (where they exist), and do not cross between parked cars.
- Stop at all corners and stay together in a group before crossing.
- Wear clothing that is bright, reflective, and flame retardant.
- Consider using face paint instead of masks. (Masks can obstruct a child's vision.)
- Avoid wearing hats that will slide over their eyes.
- Avoid wearing long, baggy, or loose costumes or oversized shoes (to prevent tripping).
- Be reminded to look left, right, and left again before crossing the street.
Options that help keep children healthy and happy on Halloween:
Best healthy treats to give the goblins and ghouls who knock on your door:
- Trail mix or dried fruit (individually pre-packaged)
- Protein bars
Best trick-or-treating practices:
- Give your child a light meal or snack before trick-or-treating to prevent snacking on too many goodies
- Have them wait until they get home before eating their treats so that you can inspect the goodies first
- Tell children not to accept – and especially not to eat – anything that isn't commercially wrapped
- Inspect all candy and treats, including commercially wrapped ones, for signs of tampering. Throw away anything that looks suspicious.
- Parents of very young children should remove any choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies or small toys
- Consider providing non-food treats for children that visit your home
- If juice or cider is served to children at Halloween parties, make sure it has been pasteurized to destroy harmful bacteria. Juice or cider that has not been treated will say so on the label.