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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is discouraging Americans from participating in traditional trick-or-treating and indoor costume parties this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
However, if trick-or-treaters end up hitting the streets, they should not wear a costume mask as a replacement for their virus-related mask or in addition to one, the CDC said.
Costume masks should only be worn if they have two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around the person's face, the CDC said, adding that trick-or-treaters should consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask instead.
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The federal agency issued its Halloween guidelines Monday to help protect families and communities from COVID-19, which has infected more than 6.8 million Americans.
"Many traditional Halloween activities can be high-risk for spreading viruses," the CDC said in its advisory, adding that anyone who may have COVID-19–or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19–should not partake in any in-person activities during the holiday.
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However, the agency noted that there are "several safer, alternative ways to participate in Halloween" and listed three categories identifying low-, moderate- and high-risk activities.
The CDC said its guidelines "are meant to supplement, not replace" any state or local rules and regulations regarding holiday gatherings.
Low-risk activities have been identified by the CDC as carving or decorating pumpkins with family or at a safe distance with neighbors or friends. The category also includes virtual Halloween costume contests, Halloween movie nights with people in your household as well as trick-or-treat-style scavenger hunts with people in your household.
Moderate-risk activities include attending a costume party held outdoors where protective masks are used and guests are socially distanced. One-way trick-or-treating "where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go" is also described as a moderate-risk activity.
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Families and friends can also have an outdoor Halloween movie night or hold a costume parade as long as people are spaced at least six feet apart and are taking proper precautions. Outdoor haunted forests are also a moderate risk activity as long as participants remain socially distanced.
High-risk activities include traditional trick-or-treating, where treats are handed to children, or having "trunk-or-treat" events, where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots. Attending crowded costume parties inside is also discouraged.
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