As you cue up Hocus Pocus and break out the candy corn, you’re probably also bracing yourself for a very different Halloween celebration than years past. There’s a lot to consider when celebrating the holiday during the coronavirus pandemic, and when it comes to getting together with friends, you might be wondering if it's safe to do a group costume for Halloween. Considering how tough social distancing will already be if you go to a party, you may want to err on the side of caution. Here's what experts have to say about planning for group costumes during the coronavirus pandemic — and the precautions you should take if you dress up at all this Halloween.
Halloween celebrations during the coronavirus pandemic will follow pretty much the same rules as any other gathering you would consider. Dr. John Swartzberg, M.D., F.A.C.P., clinical professor emeritus of infectious diseases and vaccinology at Berkeley Public Health, tells Elite Daily indoor celebrations should be avoided. “No parties should take place indoors,” he says. “An enclosed space with groups of people for long periods of time is a recipe for an outbreak."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations as of July 7, smaller outdoor gatherings where people from the same community practice social distancing guidelines like wearing masks, staying at least six feet apart, and not sharing objects, carry a moderate risk. The risk increases as the size of the gathering grows larger.
Group costumes are also on the chopping block. "The biggest problem is the fact that you can’t social distance with a group costume. The other problem is that some of these group costumes require people to be together in an enclosed air space," Swartzberg says. "That would be a very bad idea, even when wearing a mask."
According to Dr. Amesh Adalja, M.D., F.I.D.S.A., an expert on emerging infectious diseases, pandemic preparedness, and biosecurity at Johns Hopkins University, you should wear a face covering if you do decide to dress up — and he also warns against coordinating a group 'fit. “Group costumes where social distancing is impossible will obviously increase risk,” Adalja tells Elite Daily.
As for your solo costume, Swartzberg suggests incorporating your protective face mask into your outfit. You might also want to consider some kind of eye shield, since people will probably be talking loudly and yelling.
If you do go to a small gathering, Swartzberg recommends holding your party outside with heat lamps if needed, and you should avoid going inside as much as possible. He also warns against drinking too much alcohol (if you’re 21 years old or older, of course) since it can impair your judgement and cause you to relax your coronavirus precautions.
As you celebrate outdoors, Adalja reminds people to keep up with all usual COVID-19 safety precautions, including avoiding crowds, not going out if you're sick or showing COVID-19 symptoms, and regularly washing your hands. "No event is without risk," he says. "Realize we are still in a pandemic, and simple measures can decrease the risk of disease transmission and acquisition."
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all Elite Daily's coverage of coronavirus here.
Dr. Amesh Adalja, M.D., F.I.D.S.A, an expert on emerging infectious diseases, pandemic preparedness, and biosecurity at Johns Hopkins University
Dr. John Swartzberg, M.D., F.A.C.P., clinical professor emeritus at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health's Division of Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology