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Posted on: October 7, 2020

City Advises Residents to Follow CDC and VDH Guidance for Halloween Activities

The City of Newport News is advising residents to follow CDC and Virginia Department of Health (VDH) guidelines for Halloween activities this year in order to limit potential exposure to COVID-19. In keeping with those guidelines, Parks, Recreation & Tourism’s 10th Annual “Spooktacular” event is being modified this year and adding additional locations, and Newport News Public Library is offering two Halloween themed virtual events.

This year, Spooktacular is a drive-thru trunk-or-treat event taking place on Saturday, October 31. Come by any of the three community centers listed below for a spooky good time and lots of candy. Wear your costumes and trunk-or-treat from the safety of your car! Please remain in your vehicle, and follow the signs for entering and exiting the drive-thru events. 

  • Denbigh Community Center, 15198 Warwick Blvd. from 12 p.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Brittingham-Midtown Community Center, 570 McLawhorne Dr. from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Doris Miller Community Center, 2814 Wickham Ave. from 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. 

Newport News Public Library offers numerous virtual events every month including two in October that are Halloween-themed. 

  • Fall Handprint Cards, October 22, 3 p.m. – Join us on Facebook and learn to make autumn and Halloween handprint cards.
  • Owl-O-Ween Kids' Paint Night, October 27, 6 p.m. – Children of all ages can put on their best costume and join us via Zoom as we create a Halloween-inspired masterpiece! Registration is required and begins October 12.  Limited to 40 participants. Program kits/supplies will be provided for registrants to pick up. 

Both the CDC and VDH have deemed traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating a high risk activity and have issued the following recommendations on other options citizens can take part in to celebrate the holiday. For those who choose to trick-or-treat, the Newport News City Code specifies that trick-or-treating is for children 12 years of age and younger and ends at 8 p.m.

Lowest Risk:

  • Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household or outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends.
  • Decorating your house, apartment, or living space. 
  • Doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance. 
  • Hosting virtual Halloween costume contests.
  • Holding Halloween movie nights with people who live in the same home.
  • Participating in scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat searches with household members in or around your home, rather than going house to house.

Moderate Risk: 

  • Participating in trick-or-treating with distancing strategies in place (e.g. treat-givers provide individually wrapped goodie bags lined up for families to grab and go while continuing to social distance, such as at the end of a driveway or at the edge of a yard).  If you are preparing goodie bags, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after preparing the bags. 
  • Stopping only at houses where individuals are wearing masks and it is easy to maintain six feet of distance between the host and other trick-or-treaters. 
  • Attending a small, outside event such as trunk-or-treat, where social distancing can be maintained and everyone is wearing a mask. 
  • Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards, where wearing masks is encouraged and enforced, and people are able to maintain at least six feet of physical distance.

Highest Risk: 

  • Trick-or-treating to a large number of houses or visiting multiple neighborhoods, where participants go door to door
  • Trick-or-treating at houses where individuals are not wearing a mask, and where six 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

Trick-or-Treating Recommendations

Trick-or-treating involves the increased risk for transmitting COVID-19 due to the potential for close proximity to many people and the difficulty for trick-or-treaters to follow mask use and social distancing recommendations. If you do choose to trick-or-treat, it is important to protect yourself and others using the following recommendations: 

  1. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past ten days, or have been in contact with someone with COVID in the past 14 days, follow VDH guidance to stay home and away from others. If you are self-isolating or self-quarantining, do not participate in trick-or-treating this year, and look for other virtual options to celebrate. 
  2. Be sure to maintain at least six feet of distance between yourself and others who do not live in your household at all times. 
  3. Wash your hands before going trick-or-treating or handing out candy. Hand sanitizer should be used while trick-or-treating or handing out candy when soap and water aren’t available. 
  4. Wear a cloth mask. Halloween masks may not fit snugly against the face and may not cover the nose and mouth. Halloween masks with gaps and holes do not protect against inhaling respiratory droplets from other people. Wearing a cloth mask under a Halloween mask may make it hard to breathe and is not recommended.
  5. If you hand out candy, consider setting up an area outside, like a folding table or chairs, to set out candy. Space out the placement of treats so that multiple people do not have to reach into the same bowl or find contactless ways to deliver treats, like a candy chute that is more than six feet long. For trunk-or-treating, create distance between cars by parking in every other space.

The CDC’s Guidance for Holiday Celebrations and the Virginia Department of Health's Interim Guidance for Halloween offer more information. Citizens are also encouraged to monitor for COVID risk levels and recommended activities. 

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