When you think of Halloween, chances are you think of costume parties and going house to house to trick-or-treat for candy.

But with the coronavirus still lurking about and the current uptick in positive COVID-19 cases in El Paso County, health officials are not allowing participation in many traditional spooky season activities.

Instead, El Pasoans are urged to consider safer alternatives “that reduce the risk of spreading or becoming infected with COVID-19.” This includes drive-by, drive-thru and drive-up events, and various virtual pursuits.

Permitted Activities

Taking their cue from recently published Centers for Disease Control guidelines, the Department of Public Health is okay with all of this for Halloween and Dia de los Muertos :

• Virtual online parties/contests (e.g. costume or pumpkin carving, Dia de los Muertos costumes).

• Car parades that comply with local public health guidance for vehicle-based parades including: (a.) Drive by events or contests where individuals dress up or decorate their vehicles and drive-by “judges” that are appropriately observing social distancing. (b.) Drive through events where individuals remain in their vehicles and drive through an area with Halloween displays. (c.) Drive in events where individuals can receive a treat bag (limited to commercially packaged non-perishable treats), take away item from an organizer while the participants remain in their vehicle, or depositing ofrendas for Dia de los Muertos displays avoiding gatherings.

• Decorating homes and yards with Halloween or Dia de los Muertos themed decorations.

• Halloween or Día de los Muertos movie nights at drive-in theaters (must comply with the public health drive-in movie theater guidance)

• Halloween or Día de los Muertos themed meals at home with same household members or outdoor restaurants (must comply with Local Heath Authority Orders)

Although not on our local health department’s “permitted” list, the CDC also considers these activities low risk:

• Carving or decorating pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends

• Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household and displaying them

• Doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for around the house and in the front and back yard

Thinkstock

So what kind of celebratory events, actions, and entertainment are we expected to hold off on this year? Gatherings of almost every kind, really, other than the “more than 10 people not from the same household” standard that we’ve been held to since the crisis started.

Activities Not Allowed:

• Halloween and Dia de los Muertos gatherings, events or parties with non-household members are not permitted even if they are conducted outdoors.

• Carnivals, festivals, live entertainment, and haunted house or Día de los Muertos attractions are not permitted.

• Door to door trick or treating is not permitted because it can be difficult to maintain proper social distancing on porches and front doors, individuals answering or coming to the door might belong to at-risk group of people that could pose a threat to their health, and because sharing food or drinks is risky.

• “Trunk or treating” Halloween events where children go from car to car instead of door to door to receive treats is also not permitted since it is difficult to avoid crowding and the sharing of food or drinks.

• Gathering or congregating at cemeteries to celebrate Dia de los Muertos will not be permitted.

• Haunted graveyard tours will not be permitted as well.

The Department of Public Health Halloween and Dia de los Muertos Guidance does not spell out how compliance and enforcement will be handled or what will happen to those caught ignoring the rules.