Wave Wire Services
LOS ANGELES — Mayor Eric Garcetti said Oct. 14 people should not participate in traditional Halloween trick-or-treating amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but didn’t issue a ban on it.
“Halloween gatherings, events or parties with people outside your household are not [permitted],” Garcetti said during his COVID-19 update from City Hall.
“Even if they happen outdoors, carnivals, festivals, live entertainment and haunted house attractions are not allowed either. Door-to-door trick-or-treating is not recommended as it makes social distancing nearly impossible.”
Garcetti said Los Angeles is following the county’s COVID-19 health directives, which have not banned trick-or-treating.
“I think we can appreciate it would be a very difficult thing to [ban trick-or-treating] across the city of 4 million, but we’re hoping — just like with masks, just like with physical distancing, just like washing your hands and everything else — that people won’t,” Garcetti said.
The Beverly Hills City Council has voted to ban trick-or-treating this year.
“As a father I know how disappointing this is for our children, but we can come up with creative ways, whether it’s hiding candy in our backyard or figuring a way to make great art together, dressing up inside our household, create your own tradition this year, but create one that is safe,” Garcetti said.
Garcetti’s comments followed those of the state’s Health and Human Services secretary who said Oct. 13 that trick-or-treating for Halloween is being “strongly discouraged” across California due to the threat of the coronavirus.
“COVID-19 continues to pose an important risk, as we say time and time again, so some of the traditional Halloween celebrations such as parties, door-to-door trick-or-treating, we know pose a high risk of spreading COVID, and are therefore strongly discouraged,” Dr. Mark Ghaly said. “We suggest families, given this, should plan now on safer alternatives.”
The state’s newly released health guidance for Halloween largely mirrors recommendations issued last month by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Those local recommendations included a ban on parties or large gatherings. The county initially barred trick-or-treating, but quickly backed down, listing such activity as “not recommended.”
While also saying large gatherings are banned, Ghaly noted that the state recently loosened its restrictions on get-togethers, but said such events should be limited to no more than three households.
He urged families to celebrate Halloween at home, while gathering “virtually” with friends or extended family.
“Virtual celebrations create a number of new opportunities for how to celebrate Halloween,” Ghaly said, suggesting activities such as virtual costume contests or pumpkin-carving contests.
“What a fun way to reconnect with friends and people you haven’t seen in some time,” he said.
He said families can also consider at-home activities, such as “creating a haunted house or candy hunt, having a scary movie night, painting faces and carving pumpkins, decorating your backyard or your home, whatever you have, designing face masks that match your Halloween costume, sharing treats with your household.”
Ghaly conceded that trick-or-treating is a cherished part of Halloween, but such activity could easily spread the virus.
“The whole act of going door to door in groups, ringing doorbells, digging into buckets of delicious candy create a risk of spreading COVID-19,” he said. “The fact that positive cases are hard to discover and probably really challenging to contact-trace also pose challenges that we feel like are too great. And during this hard time we know the importance of Halloween. We believe that we’ve outlined a number of important activities that can supplement and create alternatives in lieu of that trick-or-treating that so many people look forward to.”
Garcetti also issued an executive directive allowing Los Angeles schools to submit plans for reopening with social-distancing and safety guidelines for when they are permitted to reopen for in-person learning.
Garcetti said the plans can be submitted to the Planning Department for consideration.
“These campuses will now be able to submit temporary operating plans to make sensible changes to advance health and safety during this pandemic, including changing their drop off and pickup times, adjusting their hours of instruction and shifting the way they use indoor and outdoor spaces,” Garcetti said.
Other details of the executive directive were not immediately available.
Garcetti said although schools can submit plans, the decision to reopen remains with the county’s Department of Public Health, even if the state permits the county to reopen them.