Durham, N.C. — With declining COVID-19 metrics, health experts are giving people the green light to celebrate Halloween. In Durham, the mayor announced specific guidance today.
Trick or treating will still look a little different. Instead of walking up to the porch and ringing the doorbell., some people plan to have grab and go stations on the sidewalks with masks in tow.
In Durham, the spooky spirit is alive and parents are thrilled. “I’m not sure when things will ever go back to normal, but just being able to get out and not be afraid to partake in an activity,” said Keith DosReis, who has three kids.
In the past, thousands would go door to door in the Watts Hospital-Hillandale neighborhood. It’s one of the most popular Halloween sites in Durham, but Mayor Steve Schewel said that would be a scary sight to see anywhere during a pandemic.
“Please trick or treat in small groups. Just one or two families together or a few kids walking together,” said Schewelll in a press conference Thursday.
He gave guidance for the community on how to best celebrate the tradition without causing a super spreader event. He’s encouraging all activities to take place outdoors, in limited capacities and for children to wear masks when approaching people at doors.
This is a big difference from the strict guidelines given last year.
“Halloween still won’t be quite back to normal this year but we are encouraging trick-or-treating and we are encouraging trunk or treating. We have a a lot great events but we want everybody to be safe,” Schewel added.
WRAL asked Dr. Emily Sickbert-Bennett, the Director of Infection Prevent at UNC if parents should be concerned about the close contact of children touching, unwrapping and sharing candy.
“Certainly for Covid we’ve seen that transmission happens a lot less likely through touch transmission. but I would be remiss to not emphasize that lots of other germs can travel on hands and cause other kinds of unfortunate infectious diseases,” said Dr. Sickbert-Bennett.
She agrees Halloween can be done safely by using the precautions we’ve already been practicing. She also emphasizes the event is much safer if participating teens and adults are vaccinated, but parents should take careful measures with children who can not get the vaccine.
“If you do have young children that you think will have a hard time staying distant from their friends or will be reluctant to not flock with larger groups. You know thinking about incorporating a mask into their costumes,” she added.
Local parents are finding ways to get creative while also staying vigilant. “We’re putting bowls of candy outside at the edge of the driveway. We got our lights on or our lights off if we’re participating. And we’re at the driveway playing music and we’re kind of greeting the kids as they walk by the driveway and take the candy that they want,” said DosReeis.
Mayor Schewel anticipates neighborhoods will voluntarily follow the safety guidance, but patrol units will ask groups to disperse if necessary.
Durham Parks and Rec also announced a series of activities for you and your family this year. This includes a Fright night, Trunk or Treat and Barkoberfest for you and your furry friends.