Halloween is scary enough.
But this year, parents and guardians are contending with a new worry: If they let their children trick or treat, do they risk exposing them and those around them to the coronavirus?
"Halloween trick or treating is associated with increased face-to-face encounters," Dr. Evangelos Loukas, associate medical director at Plainview and Syosset Hospitals, said as part of a Newsday Live webinar this week on holiday season safety in the age of COVID-19. "There's a lot of contact sharing, contact spread, through candy sharing, rummaging through candy bowls, ringing people's doorbells."
But despite the risks, Loukas said, "There's ways we can [participate] in trick or treating, but not in the traditional sense we're used to."
Medical experts, including those at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, are suggesting a host of new guidelines and protocols to keep parents and their children safe amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Those guidelines include placing treats in individual paper bags, not trick or treating with others outside your core group and waiting for others to leave a doorway before going to the same house.
There are also alternatives to trick or treating for those who are wary: On Wednesday, Nassau County officials unveiled what was dubbed as "the first-ever drive thru Halloween for cars" at Stew Leonard's, which is hosting Halloween displays in the parking lots of several of its stores, including those in East Meadow and Farmingdale.
"Every year Halloween provides children and families with lifelong memories, and this year should be no different," Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said. "While COVID-19 is still a risk, people can certainly enjoy the holiday safely. Remember to be responsible: Wear a mask, practice social distancing, and use sanitizer to wash your hands and commonly touched surfaces."
Whether you're trick-or-treating or not, here's what you need to know to celebrate Halloween safely this year: