PORTLAND, Maine — A lot is up in the air this year due to COVID-19, including beloved upcoming holiday activities like trick-or-treating. Some Maine communities are moving forward with their festivities, implementing precautions and getting creative to put a safe twist on annual events. Others are canceling altogether.
In Portland, City officials are basing their recommendations on the U.S. CDC, which has issued guidance on how communities should handle Halloween activities based on color-coded designations. Cumberland County is designated as yellow, meaning the risk is moderate and there is community spread of COVID-19.
Most of Maine has a yellow designation; Oxford, Franklin, Sagadahoc, Hancock, and Piscataquis counties are green.
Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah has not yet spoken about Halloween event safety amid the pandemic, but has consistently voiced concerns over the spread of COVID-19 during flu season.
The City of Portland says it does not control or sanction Halloween activities or trick-or-treating but wants to make sure residents are aware of safety guidelines. The City is encouraging anyone who decides to participate in trick-or-treating to be informed of the guidelines and do so safely in light of the ongoing pandemic and the need to prevent further spread of COVID-19.
The yellow designation includes a recommendation allowing for trick-or-treating with the following tips:
- Stay home if sick
- Trick or treat with people you live with
- Remain 6 feet away from others in the community
- Wear a face covering that covers both your nose and mouth under or over your Halloween costume
- Use hand sanitizer frequently, especially before eating treats
- Do not hand out candy if you are sick
- Wear a face covering that covers both your nose and mouth
- Take the Safe House pledge and register as an official Halloween Safe House at Halloween2020.org
- Use duct tape to mark 6-foot lines leading up to your doorway
- Position a distribution table between yourself and trick-or-treaters
- Distribute candy on a disinfected table to eliminate direct contact and avoid anyone reaching into a bowl
- Wash hands often
Parents should talk with their children about safety precautions and physical distancing, also be sure to wear a face covering over your nose and mouth and inspect all candy before giving it to your children.
In addition to the federal guidelines, the City is encouraging residents to talk with their neighbors about safe ways in which to celebrate, including ways that may not include traditional trick-or-treating if that is preferred. Also, the City would like to remind residents to not leave their outside light on if they do not wish to pass out candy this year.