UNITED STATES—Forget about Frankenstein; COVID-19 is the real monster this Halloween.

In our era of “social distancing,” many Bay Area families are understandably bewildered about what Halloween activities are allowed this year. Indeed, many residents mistakenly believe trick-or-treating has been called off.

To help clear up all this COVID-related confusion, we’re going to run through what the City of San Francisco has to say about popular Halloween activities. Afterward, we’ll share a few CDC-approved festivities to make this year’s Halloween extra “spooky”—in a good way!

SF Announces Ban On Halloween Parties, But Not Trick-Or-Treating 

The City of San Francisco has yet to issue a formal ban on door-to-door trick-or-treating. However, that doesn’t mean it’s wise for parents to participate in this tradition.

Recently, SF’s COVID Response Center said it “strongly discourages” people from participating in door-to-door trick-or-treating. The CDC also says traditional trick-or-treating is one of the highest risk Halloween-related activities. With these strong advisories, it’s unclear how many Bay Area residents will participate in trick-or-treating.

But it’s not just trick-or-treating that’s a high-risk Halloween activity. Indeed, SF’s COVID Task Force considers large Halloween parties an even greater threat to public health.

Recently, San Francisco announced a ban on all Halloween get-togethers with more than 12 people. San Francisco also banned Halloween attractions that draw large crowds (e.g., haunted houses, carnivals, and live music).

These restrictions are in line with the CDC’s view on large indoor Halloween parties. Although small in-person costume parties aren’t banned, health officials advise people to plan their get-togethers outdoors. The CDC also recommends everyone attending these parties wear facemasks and practice good hygiene.

Other favorite Halloween activities that aren’t recommended this year include tractor rides and corn mazes. However, the CDC does consider visiting pumpkin patches a “moderately safe” activity, provided everyone practices social distancing and uses plenty of hand sanitizer.

Please note: the CDC does not count costume masks as a replacement for traditional face masks. If you feel uncomfortable wearing both a face mask and a costume, you should only wear the official face covering.

So, What Can Bay Area Residents Do This Halloween? 

Although parties, hayrides, and trick-or-treating aren’t recommended this year, that doesn’t mean there aren’t safe ways to celebrate Halloween. Indeed, many families are coming up with creative ideas to have an awesome at-home Halloween.

For instance, many families have decided to hide candy throughout their house and then send their little ones on a mini “scavenger hunt.” If your children love pirate adventures, consider writing a creative “treasure map” that eventually leads your kids to a sweet candy reward. You could also place candy throughout your property for an Easter egg style hunt.

Here are a few other festive ideas the CDC recommends:

  • Decorating pumpkins outdoors with friends and family.
  • Hosting a Zoom-based costume party and competition.
  • Watching classic Halloween movies on an outdoor projector.
  • Creating fun decorations for your home.

If your little ones still want to go out this Halloween, there are still many fun events going on in the Bay Area. For instance, the Oakland Zoo is hosting its traditional “Boo at the Zoo” event. Families who visit this zoo could send their costumed kiddos on a wild scavenger hunt. This themed-event will run from October 24th through Halloween. You could find more info about “Boo at the Zoo” on this website.

If you have a furry friend in the house, keep in mind the East Bay SPCA will hold a “Meow & Howl-een Drive-Thru” on October 31st in Oakland and Dublin. People who register for this event will receive pre-packaged treats for themselves and their pets. To find out more about registering for this drive-thru, be sure to visit this official link.

Lastly, for all you Disney fans out there, SF’s Walt Disney Family Museum will be hosting an online event dedicated to Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” Those who register for this virtual meeting will learn incredible stories behind this legendary stop-motion movie. Find out more about signing up for this October 31st event on this website.

Where Could I Learn More About Halloween Safety? 

If you want more information on having a safe and fun Halloween in the Bay Area, we recommend starting with the CDC website. The CDC now has a full webpage with safety recommendations for all holiday celebrations. You can find the official Halloween portal on this link. And don’t forget about people visiting your property; you’ll want to make sure you do what you can to prevent Halloween injuries.

For more details relating to San Francisco’s public health, you could visit the Bay Area Council’s official COVID-19 Response Network on this link. You could also find dozens of fun Bay Area events by clicking on this webpage.