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'Halloween is not canceled this year' | St. Louis releases safety guidance amid pandemic

"We are asking everyone to take a few extra precautions so that we can all celebrate Halloween, eat candy, have fun and be safe," St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson said

ST. LOUIS — The City of St. Louis announced health and safety protocols for Halloween-related activities amid the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday.

The city joins St. Louis and St. Charles counties in releasing advice on how to celebrate the holiday safely to lower the risk of spreading COVID-19.

“Let me just be really up front about the good news: Halloween is not canceled this year,” said St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson at a press conference. “We are asking everyone to take a few extra precautions so that we can all celebrate Halloween, eat candy, have fun and be safe.”

At the press conference, Dr. Fredrick Echols, acting director for the Department of Health for the City of St. Louis, said although the holiday will be different this year, it’s still possible to celebrate safely by taking extra precautions.

“This chance to enjoy and escape from the day-to-day activities may look different this year during COVID, and it should because we have to be mindful that we are still in the middle of a pandemic,” said Dr. Echols. “But it can still be possible with preventative measures.”

Dr. Echols said social distancing and face coverings will be required during Halloween activities in the city. He also discussed how residents can safely trick or treat and gave examples of alternatives to traditional trick-or-treating.

“We ask for everyone to really do their part in making sure that we are able to engage in Halloween activities in a safe manner,” Echols said. “One way that you can do that is by having a social distant trunk or treat, meaning that things are properly physically distanced and have pre-packaged goodies for kids or adults." 

When asked if he expects St. Louis to see a rise in COVID-19 cases following the holiday, Echols said there shouldn't be a rise as long as residents celebrate responsibly.

“If City of St. Louis residents and business owners, if they do it responsibly, we shouldn’t see a bump,” he said. “So that’s why we’ve taken the time to establish these critical guidelines to ensure that individuals can enjoy Halloween in a safe and responsible way."

RELATED: St. Louis, St. Charles counties release Halloween safety tips

Safety guidelines for trick-or-treating:

  • Only persons who live in the same household should trick or treat together and maintain 6-feet social distance from other trick or treaters at all times. If you find that a street becomes too crowded, it is safest to find a different area or another option. No more than six in a group.
  • All trick or treaters and their parents/guardians must be masked at all times.
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer should be carried and used frequently.
  • Homes wanting to participate can leave individually wrapped candy or treats at the front of their lawns or driveways, preferably on a table spread out.
  • Homeowners should wash their hands with soap and water and clean the table surface before placing the candy on the table and when replenishing.
  • Those passing out candy are free to enjoy the trick or treaters from at least 6-feet away and masked.
  • Children should be instructed not to eat any candy until they’ve arrived home and washed their hands with soap and water.
  • Once home, children need to wash their hands with soap and water. It would be safest to wait until the candy is inspected by an adult. A parent/guardian should assess the candy to make sure all packages were left wrapped, discarding any unwrapped candy.
  • Children should be encouraged to practice good dental hygiene.
  • The parent or guardian should practice good dental hygiene as well.
  • For apartment buildings, events should not occur inside the building.
  • For areas where homes do not have driveways/lawns, local areas are encouraged to schedule community trick or treating with staggered entry times throughout the day in different parts of the community either with drive-through or trunk or treating.

Drive-thru events like trunk-or-treating are a safe alternative to traditional trick-or-treating where children can still dress up and get candy.

The drive-thru events would need to take place in large parking lots with social distancing requirements in place. Tables could be pre-set up and children could walk around with their parent or guardian while maintaining a safe social distance while wearing masks.

A limited number of people should staff a drive-thru event and keep tables replenished and monitor social distancing, according to the guidelines. Children should also wash their hands with soap and water before they eat the candy.

Drive-thru trunk or treat checklist:

  • Recruit a set number of cars
  • Create a timed entry schedule to determine your attendance limit
  • Create a map of where cars will be with plenty of space between
  • Advertise with information about reserved time slots, social distancing and mask-wearing
  • Package candies or little favors in treat bags for easy distribution
  • Create signage to direct the flow of traffic
  • Draw markers on the ground to keep social distancing
  • Mask Up and enjoy

RELATED: How you can safely celebrate Halloween in St. Louis this year

Halloween events allowed in St. Louis during COVID-19:

  • Virtual Halloween parties, giving children the opportunity to show costumes off to family and friends while socially distancing.
  • Hayrides or tractor rides. Limit the number of riders to 10 or less (at a time). Riders must adhere to local restrictions for face coverings and social/physical distancing. Organizers shall limit the time customers linger in the area around the hayrides to 30 minutes.
  • Halloween scavenger hunts, where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance.

Halloween events not encouraged:

  • Parties, large or small, including neighborhood or family gatherings (with persons who live outside of the immediate household).
  • Large school events; In-person schools may consider small classroom parties without a parent and volunteer involvement.
  • Indoor haunted houses, where people may be crowded together and screaming.
  • Gatherings in residential halls, sorority/fraternity houses, or in common areas on college campuses.
  • Traveling to rural fall festivals where COVID-19 mitigation measures are not enforced.
  • Visiting stores for costume purchases. Consider purchasing costumes online or using items already at home to create a costume.

After celebrating the holiday, the city said to take extra precautions for 14 days including staying home as much as possible, limit interactions with people who have an increased risk of severe illness and consider taking a COVID-19 test.

Click here for a closer look at the safety guidelines.

Watch the full press conference in the video below: