Excerpted from USA Today by Dr. Gavin Yamey and Melissa Kay

As public health researchers with children who are very excited about Halloween — one with a son who turns 5 on Oct. 31, and the other with a daughter desperate to dress as Katy Perry (again) — we’ve been pondering whether there’s still a way to celebrate the day in the face of COVID-19.

Cities such as Los Angeles are advising against trick-or-treating. We’ve looked at the risks, though, and believe that in most cases, there are ways to honor the tradition while minimizing the chance of you or your kids becoming infected. But just like everything else in 2020, trick-or-treating will need to look a little different than usual.

If you live in a community with high or rising COVID-19 case rates, especially if people in your community reject masks and social distancing, that calls for extra caution. But for the most part, cities shouldn’t adopt outright bans or punitive measures on trick-or-treating, because these are likely to be ineffective.

From a public health viewpoint, adopting a harm reduction approach — including recommending safer ways to celebrate — is more likely to ensure that Oct. 31 is not a day of superspreading events.
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