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Is Trick-or-Treating happening?

NORTH LIBERTY– Halloween is coming up, but it will look different than years past because, you know, the COVID-19 pandemic.
Johnson County Public Health and other experts caution traditional trick-or-treating is riskier than alternatives; although interactions door-to-door are typically quick, they usually involve close and frequent contact, the conditions spreading SARS-CoV-2, the Coronavirus causing COVID-19. Often, many kids and families gather at doors or on sidewalks and the more households they visit, the greater chance germs are spread and linger.

But is Trick-or-Treating happening?
Celebrating virtually offers the lowest risk of transmission. Public health experts warn that traditional, door-to-door trick-or-treating is a higher risk activity in the midst of a pandemic with a virus spreading from person to person. Families should consider alternatives such as:
• Setting up stellar outdoor, home or yard decorations the community can drive past to enjoy.
• Hosting costume or pumpkin carving parties online.
• Hosting a neighborhood vehicle parade.
• Reversing the trick-or-treating or trunk-or-treating roles and have treat distributors toss treats to costumed kids.
• Having a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat with household members in or around the home.

OK. OK. But, seriously, is Trick-or-Treating happening?
In a word, yes. But it will look different. Public health experts, including Johnson County Public Health, recommend, and the City of North Liberty endorses, some precautions:
• Limiting the trick-or-treating group to household or the bubble you’ve already been distancing with.
• Skipping areas or streets that are busy.
• Not stopping at homes not following safety guidelines, such as mask wearing and distancing.
• Setting up contactless candy-delivery methods, such as tossing candy or setting out treats in a driveway.
• Bring hand sanitizer and use it frequently.

Got it. But, when is Trick-or-Treating?
If you’re not a transplant from central Iowa or a few other pockets out east, or haven’t heard of Beggars Night, this may seem like a silly question. North Liberty trick-or-treats on Halloween, Oct. 31. Trick-or-treating ends at 7 p.m. this year, but the city isn’t designating a start time for families who plan to trick or treat encouraging those who choose to do so, to make arrangements with friends or neighbors who your household has been physically distancing with during the pandemic. Homes who are prepared for trick-or-treating should use the universal signal and turn on outdoor lights.
Trick-or-treaters should respect homes with lights off, as it may be home to someone more vulnerable to COVID-19.

That makes sense. What else do I need to know?
No matter how you celebrate Halloween this year, keep the following advice from Johnson County Public Health in mind:
• If you sick, or in contact with someone who is sick with COVID-19 or has symptoms of COVID-19, stay home.
• Wear a mask over the mouth and nose, make sure it is under or over any Halloween costume masks, and remember a Halloween mask does not offer appropriate protection.
• Avoid smaller spaces not allowing for distancing of six feet.
• Stay at least six feet away from those not living in your home.
• Wash or sanitize hands often.

This all seems excessive. Everyone’s wearing masks.
Halloween masks aren’t the same as the face coverings recommended to stop the spread of the virus. That said, everyone could go as a mask-wearing healthcare professional or ninja, and keep doing it until the pandemic abates.