Hartford Mayor, Health Director Ask Residents to Avoid Door-to-Door Trick-or-Treating

Halloween Candy

The city of Hartford is asking residents to avoid going door to door to trick-or-treat this Halloween and to look for safe alternatives amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Hartford's mayor, health director, and fire chief held a news conference Monday afternoon to give guidance on how to safely celebrate Halloween.

“Like almost everything else in 2020, Halloween has got to look a little different,“ Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said.

He urged people to avoid large parties or gatherings. Gatherings of more than 25 people are prohibited due to the pandemic.

"The reality is, you shouldn't be gathering with anywhere near that number of people if you don't need to," Bronin said. "Please don't try to substitute trick-or-treating with a big party, even if it's a big family party."

The mayor also asked people to avoid trunk-or-treating unless it is a drive-through event held by an organization that is taking all the necessary precautions.

“We want our motto here in Hartford to be, as it is around the country, that Halloween should be spooky, but not scary,” Bronin said.

Bronin suggested safe ways to celebrate, including dressing up and having a party with the members of your own household, to have an at-home movie night or to have a scavenger hunt.

NBCLX storyteller Clark Fouraker shares tips for celebrating a safe Halloween this year, such as carving pumpkins outside with others, participating in virtual costume contests and setting candy around your own home for a unique trick-or-treating experience.

On Oct. 1, the Connecticut Department of Public Health released a new series of guidelines detailing how residents should celebrate Halloween this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic requires all of us to take steps to keep ourselves, our families, and our communities safe and healthy: wear our masks, wash our hands frequently, and maintain social distancing.  As a result, we will need to celebrate many fall traditions differently this year, including Halloween. Traditional Halloween activities carry a high risk for spreading COVID-19, but we can reduce that risk significantly by organizing and participating in fun, lower or moderate risk alternatives," DPH said on its website.

The state guidelines on Halloween suggest against traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating, though the governor has made it clear: Halloween is not canceled.

The state is asking anyone who traveled to one of the states on Connecticut's travel advisory between October 16 and October 30 to not leave their home for a Halloween activity or pass out Halloween candy.

The state has issued a color-coded alert system to indicate which communities have the highest levels of COVID-19 and Hartford has been at the red alert level, which is the highest, for the last two weeks. City officials expect Hartford will be on red alert again this week.

Connecticut Trick-or-Treating Recommendations

  • Traditional trick-or-treating is a high risk activity. Instead, the CDC and CT DPH recommends participating in one-way trick-or-treating where goodie bags or a large bowl of candy are placed outside of your home for families to grab and go while continuing to social distance.
  • If you are preparing goodie bags, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 second before and after preparing the bags.
  • For people who choose to hand out candy:
  • Before you answer the door, make sure your face covering is in place over your nose and mouth, wash or sanitize your hands before answering door.
  • Remain six feet from the Trick-or-Treater.
  • Place the candy inside the child’s bag for them instead of having them take it from the bowl themselves.
  • Homes providing candy may set up hand sanitizer stations outside or parents/guardians can pack a travel bottle of their own.
  • Parents/guardians should limit the number of homes their children visit.
  • It is not recommended to trick-or-treat with people outside of your household.
  • Remain six feet away from people outside your household at all times.
  • All trick-or-treating participants should wear a mask or face covering while outside at all times.
  • A costume mask (such as for Halloween) is not a substitute for a cloth or surgical mask. A costume mask should not be used unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose and does not leave gaps around the face.
  • Do not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth or surgical mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.
  • Do not wear a costume rubber mask over another face covering of any kind.
Masks: they’ve always been part of Halloween tradition but never like this year. While spooky season is in full fright mode around the state, those in the Halloween business have adapted to COVID-19 protocols.

Halloween Party Recommendations

Events to consider:

  • In lieu of in-person house parties, host virtual Halloween events, e.g. virtual costume contests.
  • Host drive-by Halloween events, e.g. neighborhood or town-based house decorating.
  • Prepare candy scavenger hunts at homes with your household members.
  • Have a Halloween movie night with the people in your household.

Events to avoid:

  • Large parties that exceed 25 people indoors or 150 people outdoors
  • Hosting an indoor party that exceeds 25 people indoors or 150 people outdoors can result in a fine of $500
  • Attending a party that exceed attendance rules can result in a fine of $250
  • Large Halloween-themed parades where physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Indoor haunted houses where people may be crowded together and screaming
  • Hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household
  • Traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door to door (See Trick or Treating tips below)
  • Trunk-or-treat events where cars gather in a large parking lot and allow children to move from car to car to collect candy.
Cincinnati father Andrew Beattie couldn’t bear to miss out on Halloween this year, so he created a "candy chute" for safe trick-or-treating during the pandemic, using a 6-foot-long chute made from household materials.

Additional Guidance:

  • Restaurants that choose to host Halloween-themed events should strictly adhere to capacity and physical distancing guidance as outlined in Sector Rules.
  • Colleges and universities should consider alternatives to on-campus costume parties or trick-or-treating between dorms, as these activities will be challenging to maintain physical distancing. Guidance for safe Halloween activities should be shared widely with on- and off-campus students.
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