There are no local or state regulations governing how families can celebrate Halloween this year, but officials are urging everyone to be careful.

“We’re worried about experiencing a spike” in COVID-19 cases, said Kathryn Goodman, a spokeswoman for the Thomas Jefferson Health District. “We’ve already seen after the Fourth of July there was an increase in cases. We’re worried about that happening again.”

To minimize this possibility, the health department has published a list of recommendations for all age groups.

Trick-or-treating

If you’re sick, immunocompromised or in COVID quarantine or isolation — don’t participate. 

The health department has created downloadable signs for residents to hang on mailboxes indicating to trick-or-treaters whether or not they are handing out candy. Aquí están las señales en español.

For those who are participating, wash your hands and package candy in individual bags, rather than dumping all candy into a single bowl.

Everyone — including all children — should wear masks, and trick-or-treaters should stay at least 6 feet from other trick-or-treaters that don’t live in their same household.

The health department also recommends staying close to home.

“Keep the flow of trick or treaters in one direction [and] no multi-neighborhood visits,” according to the health department.

Parties and gatherings

Any gatherings should be kept small and held outdoors. Indoor gatherings pose the highest risk of spreading coronavirus, according to health officials.

“We’re worried about any age group trying to gather and party indoors,” the TJHD said.

But even outdoor gatherings are not without risk, she added. Party-goers should wear masks and stay physically distant (by at least 6 feet) from others who do not live in the same household.

The safest option is to just stay home, the health department said. Carve pumpkins, watch a scary movie or host a costume contest over video call.

The health department has ranked Halloween activities from high risk to medium risk to low risk. Aquí están los riesgos de Halloween en español

“We don’t want people to let their guard down,” Goodman said. “It’s been a long and tiring eight months and people are exhausted of hearing about COVID, but we can’t let our guard down.”

Local events

  • The Charlottesville Police Department is hosting its “Charlottesville (Halloween) Night Out,” as an alternative to traditional trick-or-treating. The event, held at Charlottesville High School from 2-4 p.m. Saturday, is completely drive-thru. Volunteers will hand out candy, packed in small bags, and T-shirts to kids. “Join in on the fun by decorating your cars for our Spooky Car Contest,” according to a news release. “We will post pictures of your cars to our Facebook page, and the winner gets a prize!”
  • Albemarle County has created a Halloween Bingo game that families and children can download and play. The card includes items to be checked off like, “carve a pumpkin,” and “wear a Halloween-themed face covering,” and “watch a classic horror film.”
  • Albemarle County will also host a “Spooktacular Day at Greenwood Community Center on Friday from 10:30 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 2 p.m. The event will include a story time, photo station, arts and crafts, games of Halloween-themed Simon Says and treat bags, according to the county. The event is capped at 50 people, and everyone must pre-register by calling or emailing Joe Clark, the county’s recreation program supervisor, at jclark@albemarle.org or (434) 466-3389. Masks are required to attend and there will be no public restrooms on site.
  • The county’s Yancey School Community Center will host two additional events. The first is a Seasonal Wall Display. From Monday through Sunday, anyone can pick up a pumpkin and carving kit from B.F. Yancey School Community Center“Take it home and carve it up with your best decorating effort. Then, bring your uniquely designed pumpkin to Yancey for display in the Community Garden or atop our new Seasonal Hay Bale Wall Display,” the county said in a news release. You can also participate virtually by posting a photo of the pumpkin on Facebook and tagging @Albemarle.County.
  • On Friday and Saturday, the Yancey Community Center will host a drive thru Pumpkin Glow Night Finale in the parking lot between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. Participants can photograph and pick up their pumpkins on Sunday between 1:30 and 4:30 p.m.