ROCKINGHAM — Two local Halloween events have been carved out of this year’s schedule, adding to a list of cancellations because of restrictions due to COVID-19.
The City of Rockingham on Tuesday announced that it was cancelling the annual Trunk or Treat at Browder Park.
This would have been the event’s 15th year.
City Events Coordinator Kim Williams cited ongoing statewide government restrictions and recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the reason for the cancelation.
Although Gov. Roy Cooper has moved North Carolina into Phase 3, outdoor mass gatherings are still only limited to 50 per his executive order.
The Rockingham Downtown Corporation also announced that the Spooktacular event was on the chopping block due to the coronavirus and “the safety of all of our children as well as ourselves.
“We look forward to making it bigger and better next year,” reads a Facebook post. “We wish everyone a safe and fun Halloween during this pandemic.
The CDC warns that traditional Halloween activities “can be high risk for spreading viruses” and says anyone exposed to COVID-19 should not participate in in-person festivities or hand out candy to children.
The CDC also offers a list of activities and the risk factor that comes along.
Suggested lower-risk alternatives include:
- Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household and displaying them
- Carving or decorating pumpkins 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
- Having a virtual Halloween costume contest
- Having a Halloween movie night with people you live with
- Having a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going house to house
The following activities may pose a moderate risk:
- Participating in one-way trick-or-treating where individually wrapped goodie bags are 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 second before and after preparing the bags
- Having a small group, outdoor, open-air costume parade where people are distanced more than 6 feet apart
- Attending a costume party held outdoors where protective masks are used and people can remain more than 6 feet apart
- A costume mask (such as for Halloween) is not a substitute for a cloth mask. A costume mask should not be used unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around the face
- Do not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask
- Going to an open-air, one-way, walk-through haunted forest where appropriate mask use is enforced, and people can remain more than 6 feet apart
- If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.
- Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, wearing masks is encouraged or enforced, and people are able to maintain social distancing
- Having an outdoor Halloween movie night with local family friends with people spaced at least 6 feet apart
- If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus
- Lower your risk by following CDC’s recommendations on hosting gatherings or cook-outs
The CDC recommends avoiding the following high-risk activities:
- Participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door to door
- Having trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots
- Attending crowded costume parties held indoors
- Going to an indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming
- Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household
- Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgement and increase risky behaviors
- Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19