California recommends virtual Halloween celebrations, skip trick-or-treating, state officials say

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California is proposing safer ways to celebrate Halloween this year- and trick-or-treating is not included. In its latest health and safety guidelines, state officials are discouraging Californians from partaking in traditional holiday activities in order to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

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As Halloween lands on a Saturday this year, chances for social gatherings are heightened, which makes it nearly impossible to avoid social distancing while trick-or-treating, according to the health officials. 

In a reimagined version of both Halloween and Day of the Dead, lower-risk festivities are offered like having a scary movie night at home, creating a haunted house or candy scavenger hunt in the backyard and even handing out treats to only those in the household.

Other virtual alternatives include participating in online costume parties or pumpkin carving contests and sending a curated playlist or theme treats to friends. For Day of the Dead, altars can be recreated with virtual spaces to honor loved ones and shared on social media. 

The recommendations come days after the state released new rules on social gatherings, which prohibit groups that include more than 3 households. The advisory warns of the risks associated with trick-or-treating, including the likelihood of violating those new mandates. 

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According to state health officials, trick-or-treating “promotes congregating and mixing of many households, particularly crowded doorsteps, which can increase the spread of COVID-19,” which is “not currently permitted in California.” Further, the potential for widespread exposure makes it more challenging to contact trace those infected if any positive cases emerge. 

Not all of the recommendations hinge on staying at home or virtual, however. Hosting Halloween-themed meal either alone or with up to 2 households, for example, is allowed, while attending a car-based outing where people do not leave their car, including drive-in events, contests or movies, is also encouraged. Also welcomed is dressing up the house or yard with Halloween decorations as long as trick-or-treaters are kept off the premises.

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