COVID-19 has not stopped trick-or-treating across the region, but localities and the Virginia Department of Health are advising parents and children to consider safety and health first before knocking on doors on Halloween.
The Virginia Department of Health offers several recommendations (www.vdh.virginia.gov/content/uploads/sites/182/2020/09/VDH-Interim-Guidance-for-Halloween-Events-2.pdf) for a safe Halloween this year, grouping possible activities into lowest-, moderate- and highest-risk categories. Lowest-risk activities involve at-home things like carving and displaying pumpkins, decorating your home, enjoying a scary movie, holding a virtual Halloween costume contest or doing a scavenger hunt at home or outside but without knocking on doors.
Moderate-risk activities include socially distanced trick-or-treating, trunk-or-treat events or visiting a pumpkin patch or orchard. If you are trick-or-treating, VDH recommends stopping only at houses or events where everyone is practicing social distancing and wearing masks.
The highest-risk activities, according to VDH, are what many people did before the pandemic:
• Trick-or-treating to a large number of houses or visiting multiple neighborhoods.
• Trick-or-treating at houses where individuals are not wearing a mask and where 6 feet of physical distance is not maintained between individuals.
• Attending parties or events that may become crowded and social distancing is difficult to maintain.
• Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household.
• Going to indoor haunted houses where people may be crowded together and screaming.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also offer recommendations for Halloween and holiday celebrations (www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html) that complement state health officials’ advice.
If you are going to an event or are hosting a Halloween party or trick-or-treating, CDC recommends you consider:
• Your community’s levels of COVID-19, including case numbers and infection rates.
• The location of the gathering — indoor gatherings generally pose more risk than outdoor gatherings because of ventilation. Open windows and doors help lessen the risk.
• The duration of the gathering — the longer the event, the greater risk of COVID-19 spread.
• Attendance — the more people, the greater the risk. Also, state and local laws and emergency orders may limit gatherings.
• Where people are traveling from — gatherings with attendees who are traveling from different places pose a higher risk than gatherings with attendees who live in the same area.
• Attendees’ behavior before and during the event — not adhering to social distancing (staying at least 6 feet apart), mask wearing, hand-washing, and other prevention behaviors pose more risk than gatherings with attendees who are engaging in these preventative behaviors.
Localities across Southwest Virginia recommend parents and children consider the risks of trick-or-treating this year. Many events have been canceled or changed due to the pandemic. All localities are permitting trick-or-treating this year but with various curfews and provisions.
Norton: Oct. 31, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Anyone not wanting to give out treats can turn off porch and outdoor lighting, and those who do give treats are asked not to distribute fresh fruit or homemade treats. Trick-or-treaters are asked to go in household groups and not with other people, and groups are asked to wait before approaching a house until a previous group leaves. There will be a city Halloween in the Park on Friday, Oct. 23, at Norton City Park on Virginia Avenue from 6-7 p.m. For more information, call (276) 679-0754 or visit Facebook: City of Norton, Virginia.
Wise County• Wise: Oct. 31, trick-or-treating runs from 5:30-8:30 p.m. People are asked to consider safety and health, and residents not wanting to give out treats are asked to turn off porch lights.
• Appalachia: Oct. 31, trick-or-treating runs from 5:30-8:30 p.m. People are asked to consider safety and health, and residents not wanting to give out treats are asked to turn off porch lights.
• Coeburn: Oct. 31, people are asked to consider safety and health if trick-or-treating and to follow Virginia Department of Health guidelines.
• St. Paul: Oct. 31, trick-or-treating runs from 5-7 p.m.
• Pound: Oct. 31, downtown businesses will join in a trunk-or-treat event from 5-8 p.m.
• Big Stone Gap: Oct. 31, trick-or-treating runs from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Oak Grove Baptist Church on 11th St. N. will host a drive-thru trunk-or-treat starting at 5:30 p.m. as long as treat bags last.
• Gate City: Oct. 31, people are asked to consider safety and health if trick-or-treating and to follow Virginia Department of Health guidelines.
• Jonesville: Oct. 31, 4-7 p.m. Anyone not wanting to give out treats can turn off porch and outdoor lighting. There will be a trunk-or-treat at Cumberland Bowl Park from 4-7 p.m. Trick-or-treaters are asked not to arrive before 4 p.m., and walk-thrus are not permitted. Any group wanting to give out candy at the event can call (276) 346-1151.
• Pennington Gap: Oct. 31, 5-8 p.m., on a “feel safe, personal choice” basis. Any resident not giving treats can turn off porch lights.