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St. Louis doctors give COVID-19 safety tips for Halloween celebrations

Doctors say, don't get spooked, just be mindful.

ST. LOUIS — We are now less than 30 days away from Halloween and the celebrations are already starting!

This Halloween is the second year in a pandemic, yet vaccines are now in the mix this time around. That's why two local doctors spoke to 5 On Your Side with tips for parents on how to keep them safe.

Dr. Marya Strand is the Chief Medical Officer at Cardinal Glennon's Children's Hospital. She says it's hard breaking tradition, but believes the new rules placed after COVID need to stay for now, such as masking and social distancing.

"I would recommend wearing a mask if you are out and about with lots of other people. I think it's really hard to say we've reached a critical point in population vaccination that allows us to let our guard down. We just haven’t," Dr. Strand says.

She's recommending to mask up while trick-or-treating, too. 

"If you're going door-to-door to collect candy, you don't know if the person that you are going to collect candy from might be masked or not, might have COVID or not. So the safest is to just have a mask on. I think the more folks that you are exposed to who are unmasked, the higher the risk that you may contract COVID," Dr. Strand. 

In regards to costumes, Dr. Diana Roukoz, a pediatrician with Mercy says, the best costume mask is one that can filter particles. If you can't, a face covering is recommended.

Dr. Strand agrees. 

"If you have a plastic Batman mask that has a big mouth whole, well that's not the same as a mask. I think if you want to be protected from COVID, put your Batman mask on over your cloth mask. Halloween is really made for a pandemic, where you can be outside and wear a mask and it's just part and parcel of that the holiday festival," Dr. Strand explains.

READ: CDC director says Halloween trick-or-treating safe for kids outside this year

As for events, Dr. Roukoz says try avoiding indoor ones.

"I do think that definitely recommending things that are outdoors like trunk-or-treats or small outdoor neighborhood gatherings," Dr. Roukoz explains. 

Dr. Roukoz adds, a small vaccinated group could work.

"I think wearing a mask sitting on a hay wagon and collecting pumpkins with your friends, who are also taking caution not to spread the virus to you and your family members, I think that's thoroughly acceptable," Dr. Strand says.

Dr. Strand doesn't think large groups are a good idea. 

"I think getting into an auditorium with 200 people and not wearing a mask and sharing food and drinks is a recipe for spreading COVID, just like it always has been," she adds.

Dr. Roukoz recommends getting creative and having some fun, while staying safe. She offers one idea: to have a 'mask-querade' party, decorating masks and giving the winner a prize.

MORE: Lazy Tiger to bring back Halloween pop-up bar in the Central West End

The reasons for the precautions are due to the Delta variant and vaccinations rates aren't high enough yet. 

"Our children that are under 12 are not vaccinated yet and, sadly, they are the ones that are being disproportionately affected this go around with Delta," Dr. Roukoz says.

Doctors say, don't get spooked, just be mindful.

Dr. Strand adds, "That doesn't mean that we have to limit Halloween fun. It just means we need to continue to use the precautions that we've been using that we know work for kids, in our families, in our communities."

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