Hoping to trick-or-treat or throw a Halloween party this month? Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN that people can go out and enjoy trick-or-treating on Halloween, especially if they’re vaccinated.

Chelle Jeffery is in a white lab coat smiling into the camera
Chelle Jeffery

“Being vaccinated is the single most important thing that we can do to protect ourselves from this virus, especially if we are going back into bars, wanting to go to parties and engaging socially,” said Chelle Jeffery, a certified physician assistant with Novant Health New Garden Medical Associates in Greensboro.

Regardless of vaccine status, there are other precautions to take to protect your own health, as well as the health of your neighbors and kids. Here are eight things for adults to keep in mind when Halloween partying and participating in trick-or-treating.

1. Keep your distance with strangers.

The pandemic has brought its own kind of stranger danger. Whether you’re vaccinated or not, you have no clue if strangers at parties or handing out candy are vaccinated or are infected with COVID-19.

“So if you are trick-or-treating with your kids, in a group of people that you routinely spend time with, that is OK,” Jeffery said. You’re probably aware of their vaccination and health status.

2. Consider leaving a bowl of candy on your step.

“We do recommend, of course, distancing yourself from your trick-or-treaters, and wear a mask,” Jeffery said. “If you can position yourself on your front porch, that would be a good idea. You could set out a table with individually packaged candy or treats that kids could come up one at a time and pick up themselves. Or, if you feel more comfortable, leave a bowl at your door.”

3. Bring the hand sanitizer (and wash your hands).

If you shake someone’s hand at a party or stick your hand in a bowl of candy, lather up with some hand sanitizer. Help your kids do the same. And this should come as no surprise – but wash your hands when you get home, especially before you dig into any Halloween candy.
“It’s important also to remember that COVID is primarily transmitted through respiratory droplets, not through contact,” Jeffery said. “So while it's still important to wash your hands after touching objects, including candy wrappers, that is less a risk for transmission of COVID.”

Hence this next step.

4. Mask up (but no need to double-mask).

A costume mask is not a substitute for a face mask. But for trick-or-treating, Jeffery said: “We don't recommend that children wear both a costume mask and a face mask together because it can cause them trouble with breathing. But in between houses, if they take their costume mask off, putting their mask on while they're traveling in that group is a good idea.”

The same can apply to adults at parties.

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5. Host an outdoor party or haunted attraction.

Southern temperatures on Halloween could still be balmy, so if a party or haunted maze is on your agenda, plan it outside.

“Socializing outdoors can help to reduce the risk of transmission,” Jeffery said. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s still safer to be at least 6 feet apart.

6. Keep social groups small.

Limit the chance of super-spreader events by putting a cap on the number of guests at your party or people in your trick-or-treating crew.

“A smaller group, especially of people that you normally spend time with, is important, and that can help to reduce the spread,” Jeffery said.

7. Get vaccinated against COVID.

Unvaccinated people are at much higher risk for both contracting the virus and then transmitting it to others, Jeffery said. “And that holds true regardless of the holiday. We hope that more and more people will continue to get vaccinated, not only to protect themselves but to protect the other people in their community.”

8. Get your flu shot.

Flu season is coming back, and after catching a break last year with almost no flu because of masking, shutdowns and distancing, experts expect it to return this year. The flu vaccine is most effective for about six months, so October is the ideal month to get vaccinated. If you get it too early, it may lose its effectiveness before the end of flu season, which typically goes until March or April.