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COVID-19 Update: State Releases Official Guidance On Halloween Celebrations, Strongly Discourages Trick-Or-Treating

SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) -- California health officials on Tuesday released the state's official COVID-19 guidance for safely observing Halloween and Día de los Muertos celebrations later this month.

Health officials noted that many traditional holiday activities such as parties, parades and trick-or-treating promote congregating and mixing of households, which would increase the risk of transmitting COVID-19.

Bay Area health officials released their joint guidance regarding Halloween activities late last month.

The California Department of Public Health is recommending that families choose a safer alternative way to celebrate Halloween and Día de los Muertos, particularly trick-or-treating. Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly addressed the concerns officials have about trick-or-treating during his weekly Tuesday update on the state's COVID-19 response.

"Trick or treating, obviously an important part of our guidance and an important part that I have said over the last many weeks will look different this year throughout the state," said Dr. Ghaly. So some of traditional celebrations, the costume parties and door-to-door trick-or-treating we acknowledge pose a risk of spreading COVID-19 and are therefor strongly discouraged. The whole act of going door to door in groups, ringing doorbells, digging into buckets of delicious candy create a risk of spreading COVID-19."

Ghaly noted that such activity would make the already challenging task of contact tracing positive cases even more difficult given the more widespread exposure that parties and trick-or-treating would present. He also said that local health departments might have additional, more stringent restrictions.

The state guidance advises parents of children to plan early and identify safer options. Among the suggested activities are holding a haunted house or candy hunt at home, holding a scary movie night and encouraging participation in virtual activities like costume contests, parties and pumpkin carving.

The guidance also pointed out that Halloween costume masks, whether made of rubber, plastic or vinyl, are not an acceptable substitute for cloth face-coverings that help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Some safer alternatives for Día de los Muertos also emphasized celebrating at home or virtually such as creating a virtual altar or virtual space to honor lost loved ones and sharing those with others. Cemetery visits should also only take place with people from individual household with care being made not to expose yourself or others who are making similar visits.

More information on the state's COVID-19 guidance for Halloween and Día de los Muertos is available on the California COVID-19 website.

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