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CDC warns against door-to-door trick-or-treating for Halloween this year

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday released guidance assessing the risk level of traditional activities for the upcoming holiday season amid the coronavirus pandemic. On the list of higher-risk activities for Halloween is traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating.

The list of high-risk activities also includes trunk-or-treating — in which candy is given away from the trunks of cars in a parking lot — crowded indoor costume parties, indoor haunted houses and haunted hayrides with strangers. The CDC recommends avoiding all higher-risk activities to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Earlier this month, Los Angeles County initially announced it would ban traditional trick-or-treating, but quickly walked that decision back. Instead, the county is warning against the activity but not outright banning it. In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo said he would not ban trick-or-treating either, however, New York City's annual Halloween parade in Greenwich Village has been canceled for 2020.

Some New York City residents are considering alternatives to trick or treating this year as a result of the new guidance.

"The CDC just shut it down, but I think family members, just a few, can have a little gathering at home," Crown Heights resident Rosalind Spaulding told CBS New York.

"We need to stay safe, but don't take too much fun out of it. The door-to-door, touching people, we can stay away from that," said Vanessa Rivera, who lives in Flatbush.

According to the CDC, a moderate risk alternative to traditional trick-or-treating is one-way trick-or-treating "where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go while continuing to social distance (such as at the end of a driveway or at the edge of a yard)."

Instead of indoor haunted houses, the CDC said it would be safer to attend outdoor, one-way haunted forests where people wear masks and are given ample space. The agency also noted that more than six feet of space should be given for activities where screaming is likely to occur, as screaming can increase the distance aerosol particles travel as compared to normal speaking or breathing.

On the CDC's list of lower-risk activities is pumpkin carving with members of your household or outdoor pumpkin carving with neighbors or friends from a safe distance. Virtual costume parties are also considered low risk, along with an indoor movie night with members of your household. An outdoor movie with people outside your household is considered a moderate risk by the CDC, provided people are socially distanced.

For any type of celebration, especially with those outside your household, the CDC recommends wearing face masks, social distancing, hand washing and limiting contact with frequently touched surfaces. The CDC also stresses that Halloween costume masks are not acceptable substitutes for cloth masks unless the costume mask is made of "two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers your mouth and nose and doesn't leave gaps around your face."

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