Halloween safety 2020 pic

Halloween wouldn’t be Halloween without children dressed up as ghosts, gobblins or their favorite action figure running house to house for a handful of candy. However, with COVID-19 showing signs of spread, there are things to consider.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) recommends outdoor, no-contact events that are low-risk for disease transmission. “This isn’t the year for traditional trick-or-treating, haunted houses and costume parties,” said Dr. Michael Kacka, DHEC Physician and Chief Medical Officer. “COVID-19 continues to have a high prevalence across our state, and many traditional Halloween activities unfortunately are high-risk activities since they include close person-to-person contact and interaction with people outside of your household.”

However, the CDC says there are many precautions to make it fun and safe such as assessing the current COVID-19 levels in your community to determine whether to postpone, cancel or limit the number of attendees during gatherings. 

If you choose to go, stay out of large groups and maintain a 6-foot distance. Also, stick with your family and have hand sanitizer with you. Once home, wash your hands before eating the candy.

Williamsburg County Supervisor Dr. Tiffany Wright, along with Kingstree Mayor Darren Tisdale and Hemingway Mayor Michael Collins, have not imposed any restrictions but recommend following CDC guidelines if you decide to venture out. All agree to let parents use their best judgment. 

Collins said most of their kids come from the county and are dropped off by car door to door. He suggests that parents help with social distancing. “If a group is at a house wait for them to leave before letting your children come,” he said. Collins added the Hemingway Merchants Association is holding a trunk and treat on South Broad Street from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. and the Town will host a mini BBQ Shag Festival that weekend. He said more information and guidelines would be soon posted on the Town’s Facebook page.

Josette Jarrett is a big fan of handing candy so she is thrilled homeowners have officials’ go ahead. “We always have our youth and cheerleaders decorate the yard,” said Jarrett whose home is in Kingstree. “One person will pass out candy so there won’t be any contact.” Jarrett said something as simple as passing out goodies will go a long way for kids who have missed out on so much. “They’ve missed so many things this year and I’d hate that they would have to miss this too. It’s a huge event and it has become a tradition for us to get to see all the kids. So I’m excited that we will be able to continue that tradition.” 

Homeowners who choose to pass out candy should wear a mask, consider setting out a bowl of candy or goodie bags instead of handing it directly to the child and disinfect door knobs and other surfaces guests may come into contact with. 

The CDC suggests alternatives: 

•Virtual costume party with friends and family over video chat.

•Outdoor parade with all participants standing 6 feet apart.

•Movie night.

•Carving jack-o-lanterns.

•Have a scavenger hunt in your house or backyard for candy.

DHEC recommends that anyone who’s regularly out in the community to get tested for COVID-19 at least once a month, and anyone who chooses to take part in a social activity like Halloween celebrations should get tested afterward and also monitor for symptoms. “Testing for COVID-19 has never been easier or more accessible in South Carolina,” said Dr. Kacka. “There are 450 testing opportunities across the state, including more than 300 permanent sites and more than 130 mobile testing events, and results are provided in a matter of days. We encourage anyone who wants to get tested, to get tested, so they know their health status in regard to COVID-19, since asymptomatic people can and do spread the disease.” For more information visit scdhec.gov/holidaytips.