Family with yound children decorating pumpkins with masks.

One question on the minds of many this fall, especially parents, is what Halloween 2020 will look like. As with many traditions this year, COVID has Halloween looking a little different.

Luckily, there are many ways that you can celebrate Halloween in Maryland while staying safe.

Is Trick-or-Treat Canceled?

Trick-or-treating is a beloved tradition for families with young children, but is trick-or-treat canceled for Halloween 2020?

This depends on where you live. Counties and municipalities in Maryland have different regulations and recommendations around trick-or-treating, so it's important to follow your local laws first and foremost.

Even if your local regulations allow it, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend it.

Unfortunately, traditional trick-or-treating involves a lot of contact with other people and high-touch objects. Both of these factors make social distancing difficult and can drastically increase your risk of contracting coronavirus.

If it is allowed and you decide to go, be sure to follow basic coronavirus prevention guidelines. This includes:

Masks and Trick-or-Treating

Like every other part of day-to-day life during the pandemic, masking will be an important part of staying safe. However, Halloween 2020 brings up some unique questions about masking.

If a Halloween event puts you in close contact with others, be sure to wear the type of mask that is effective against coronavirus. Costume masks DO NOT protect against coronavirus and are not a replacement for cloth masks.

Avoid "doubling up" on masks. Wearing a costume mask over a cloth mask can make breathing more difficult, especially when paired with walking or other physical activity.

A costume mask can also shift the cloth mask under it, potentially compromising its effectiveness.

2020 Halloween Events and Activities

There are many ways that you can celebrate Halloween in Maryland during the pandemic, but each comes with its own level of risk. It's important to take these risk levels into account when determining how you want to celebrate.

Here is how the CDC has ranked many Halloween events and activities based on their risk level.

Medium-Risk Halloween Events and Activities

The CDC considers the following activities to be medium-risk:

  • Participating in "one-way" trick-or-treating, where children can grab a bag of candy at a safe distance
  • Participating in a small costume parade outdoors where people remain at least 6 feet apart
  • Attending an outdoor costume party where people wear masks and maintain a distance of 6 feet
  • Visiting a pumpkin patch or orchard while maintaining distance, wearing masks and sanitizing hands before touching produce
  • Going to an outdoor haunted forest or farm where masks are worn and distance is maintained (Though, screaming from actors and participants can increase the risk of coronavirus transmission and may require more than 6 feet of distancing.)
  • Having an outdoor movie night while maintaining distance from those outside your household

High-Risk Halloween Events and Activities

The CDC considers the following activities to be high-risk:

  • Participating in traditional trick-or-treating
  • Participating in modified trick-or-treating that still involves close contact with people you don't live with and communal treat baskets, such as "trunk-or-treating"
  • Attending large gatherings or indoor costume parties
  • Going to indoor haunted houses or tractor rides
  • Attending other large fall gatherings, particularly if they are not in your local area

Safe COVID Halloween Ideas

Looking for some less risky Halloween activities? Here are some ways to get into the spooky holiday spirit with your friends and family without sacrificing safety.

Carving Pumpkins

Carving pumpkins is one beloved Halloween tradition that doesn't have to look too different in 2020. Purchase pumpkins from your local grocery store, farm or produce stand, and then gather with household members to create fun designs.

If you want to get other people involved, have local family and friends carve pumpkins with you outside at a safe distance.

Decorate Your Home

Deck out your home in pumpkins, hay bales and everything spooky. If you can, go a step further this year. Add in a light show or eerie music that people can admire from a distance.

Even if you don't live in a standalone house or town-home, there are many ways that you can decorate your apartment or living space to channel the Halloween season.

Halloween Scavenger Hunt

A Halloween-themed scavenger hunt is a fun way for young children to celebrate without trick-or-treating.

Provide your children with a list of Halloween-themed items to search for. You can do this around the house, but the CDC also suggests giving children items to look for outside where they can admire Halloween decorations at a distance.

This is also a great opportunity to boost your mental health by going outside and enjoying the beautiful autumn foliage in Maryland.

Virtual Costume Contest

Just because you're not going trick-or-treating or attending costume parties doesn't mean that you can't show off your creation. Have a virtual Halloween costume contest with friends, family and neighbors.

Scary Movie Night

Watch a Halloween classic or anything scary with members of your household. Want to get other people involved in your fright night? Stay connected by having a virtual movie night where you watch the same movie with friends and family and comment on the film throughout.