Halloween used to be the one day of the year where it was socially acceptable to wear a mask. But since the coronavirus pandemic began, masks have become common everyday attire. That doesn't mean scary masks and protective face masks are interchangeable, however. You can dress up however you like on Oct. 31, but remember that not all masks are created equal. According to experts, the worst mask you could wear this Halloween is any costume mask if you're using it in place of a COVID-safe face mask.
"A costume mask—such as for Halloween—is not a substitute for a cloth mask," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states in their COVID guidelines. In other words, just because your mask is scary doesn't mean it's going to scare away the coronavirus.
The CDC says that the only way a costume mask can double as a regular coronavirus face mask is if 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." Unfortunately, most Halloween costume masks won't end up meeting these requirements.
However, this doesn't mean you should just throw a costume mask over your protective face mask and call it a day. After all, the CDC warns that this can be a dangerous compromise.
"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. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask," their guidelines state.
You should also only be attending events where masks are required, which will help you avoid high risk situations. The CDC says outdoor costume parties, one-way walk-through haunted forests, and pumpkin patches or orchards where masks are used and enforced can be moderate risk activities to celebrate Halloween. But masks aren't the only thing you need to worry about. For more COVID safety tips to heed this Halloween, read on. And for more recent guidance from the CDC, This Is Who's Most Likely to Give You Coronavirus, CDC Says.
Don't go to a celebration indoors.
If you're attending any kind of Halloween celebration this year, the CDC is urging you to not consider one that is held inside. This includes crowded indoor costume parties and indoor haunted houses, where the risk is heightened because "people may be crowded together and screaming," which can expel infected particles farther. And for more on Halloween amid the pandemic, This Major City Just Canceled Halloween Due to COVID.
Don't participate in traditional trick-or-treating.
Going door-to-door for Halloween candy is an integral part of the holiday. But the CDC is asking people to reconsider the tradition for this year. They say the highest risk activities you could do are participating in traditional trick-or-treating or even attending a trunk-or-treat where "treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots."
Instead, they say that participating in one-way trick-or-treating "where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go while continuing to social distance" is a good way to reduce the risk. They say you can place these bags away from the home, such as at the end of a driveway or at the edge of a yard. And for activities you can do with your family at home, try these Fun Halloween Crafts That The Whole Family Will Love.
Don't travel to other areas to celebrate.
Even if you're going to a low-risk celebration, leaving your area to spend the holiday somewhere else could bring about serious consequences. The CDC says that "traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19" is a high-risk activity. And for more on how coronavirus has changed Halloween, The Most Popular Halloween Store Won't Reopen 90 Percent of Its Locations.
Don't go on a hayride with other people.
Certain Halloween activities should only happen alongside the people you live with. If you are going on a hayride or tractor ride this year, the CDC says you should not ride with people who are not in your household. And for more useful content delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.