Former FDA, CDC Official Offers Halloween Ideas For State & City Health Departments

Washington — With Americans eager to celebrate Halloween and regain a sense of normalcy, Dr. Stephen Ostroff, a former FDA deputy commissioner and chief scientist, is highlighting ideas state and city health departments can use to create safe and fun Halloween celebrations.

As anticipation among consumers for the holiday grows by the day, Dr. Ostroff notes the question public health professionals should ask is not whether to celebrate Halloween, but how to make it as safe as possible. To this end, he offers the following five suggestions:

1. Maintain Halloween’s position as an outdoor holiday by not holding large indoor events. Additionally, parents should think of clever ways to integrate face coverings into Halloween costumes.

“Consider holding a small outdoor gathering of children with required physical distancing in the yard or elsewhere in the neighborhood. Even a small pageant or parade can be held safely outdoors if six feet of physical distancing is maintained,” he says.

2. Physical distancing is important during Halloween, but that doesn’t mean kids have to be socially distant as long as they can stay six feet apart.

3. Trick-or-treating can safely be done at households familiar to the family that can be alerted ahead of time so adequate distancing can be practiced. He also suggests that treats can be placed outside beforehand to avoid direct contact with people inside the home.

4. While there is no evidence that COVD-19 is transmitted by food or packaging, personal hygiene is still important. Dr. Ostroff suggests bringing hand sanitizer to outdoor events or trick-or-treating and using it often, including before opening a package.

5. This year it is more important than ever that any candy a child receives is packaged and not loose or open. Bring disinfectant wipes along to any event for added peace of mind, he says.

Dr. Ostroff, who also served as a deputy director of the National Center for Infectious Diseases at the CDC, is working with NCA “to help Americans take the guess work out of Halloween,” the Association reports.