On Monday, October 5, 2020, Governor Murphy announced that Halloween activities can go forward with local guidance provided by the New Jersey Department of Health to local officials, schools, outside organizations, and businesses. The goal is to keep residents safe and reduce the spread of COVID-19 while allowing for a fun time during Halloween season. The Department of Health reminds individuals not to participate in Halloween activities if they or a household member has a known exposure to COVID-19, are sick/symptomatic, or has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and has not yet met the criteria for discontinuing isolation.
Trick-or-Treaters must properly wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth (costume masks do not count), should remain near their homes, limit the total number of houses they visit, travel only with immediate family members, and should comply with social distancing guidelines. Residents giving out candy should distribute commercially packaged treats in a way that does not involve multiple children repeatedly reaching their hands into the same bowl. Placing treats on a tray is a good example of how to safely do it. In addition, it is suggested that neighbors coordinate to develop a system to distinguish homes participating in trick-or-treating from those that do not wish to participate.
For outdoor trunk or treating, the Department of Health is recommending a limit on the number of participating cars to avoid overcrowding and allow for social distancing. The event should be designed in a long line instead of a circle to discourage overcrowding.
It is recommended that indoor haunted houses be avoided due to the possibility of congregation and screaming in close quarters. If hosting a haunted house, you must ensure visitors maintain an appropriate distance by staggering start times and limiting occupancy. The Department of Health suggests that a better option would be to host an outdoor haunted house without live performers.
Hayrides should limit the number of passengers per ride and keep openings to the same party. Any shared materials should be cleaned and sanitized after each use.
Corn mazes should limit occupancy, have individuals proceed in one direction, and avoid use of shared materials.
For haunted houses, hayrides, and corn mazes it is recommended that tickets should be reserved and/or sold in advance.
No large gatherings or house parties are permitted. All indoor and outdoor gatherings are limited to the current gathering thresholds. In addition, activities that require close contact and/or sharing of items should be avoided.
The Department of Health has provided examples of socially distant Halloween activities that would require minimal or no additional health and safety protocols. Such examples include: online costume parties, Halloween-themed family movie nights, or driving through neighborhoods with Halloween displays.
The Department of Health reminds everyone to keep a social distance, wear a mask/face covering, and wash their hands frequently.
Contact: Paul Penna, Legislative Analyst, PPenna@njlm.org, 609-695-3481 x 110.