TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — While a current City Ordinance allows for two official nights of trick-or-treating in Terre Haute, this year’s festivities will be limited to one night only.
Mayor Duke Bennett on Tuesday signed an executive order designating 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31 as the window for trick-or-treating in 2020. He cited the the ongoing pandemic as a reason for the decision.
“COVID-19 has created a unique environment for this year’s celebration and in order to strive to keep people safe, we have made a change for 2020,” Duke said in a press release.
In addition to the limited window, the executive order also calls for citizens to abide by safety precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The precautions include social distancing, mask wearing and contactless trick-or-treating.
Bennett says he has received some feedback on the possibility of more trick-or-treaters being present on one night versus two.
“Yes, there will be more kids out that night maybe than spread across two nights—but we’re hoping that people may not participate this year and just kind of use good common sense with your Halloween,” Bennett said.
According to Bennett after consulting with the Terre Haute City Council and guidelines from the CDC, and state and local health departments, he feels the city is in a position to allow safe trick-or-treating.
“The state has said leave it to locals because how bad is the problem in your area, and so at this point in time we feel like we can move ahead with it. The health department gave us guidelines and recommendations,” Bennett said.
Roni Elder, health educator with the Vigo County Health Department, says in the midst of COVID-19 she does believe many activities can be done with the right precautions.
She says if you decide to partake in trick-or-treating to remember to put safety first.
“Place your candy maybe outside on your porch or at the end of your driveway or come up with some kind of creative way where you don’t have to actually hand the candy to trick-or-treaters,” Elder said.
She says it is the health department’s goal that Halloween is celebrated without any major impact on the county’s COVID-19 numbers.
“We still want people to be able to enjoy Halloween. We just don’t want us to get back from Halloween and start having tons of COVID-19 cases and cause our community to go back in any kind of stages or have huge numbers,” Elder said.
The Vigo County Health Department offers the following guidance for celebrating Halloween amid the pandemic:
- Have individually wrapped goodie bags lined up for grab and go while continuing to social distance; consider leaving goodie bags outside at the end of drive-way to limit contact with trick-or-treaters
- If you prepare goodie bags, wash your hands with soap and water before and after preparing the bags
- Have events/parties outside
- Cars should be parked at least 10 feet apart for Trunk-or-Treat events
- Consider having a screening table to ensure groups of trick-or-treaters are spaced out
- Protective masks should be worn
- A costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask. A costume mask should not be used unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around the face.
- Do not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.
- Consider only trick-or-treating at homes where you have already been in contact with those individuals
- If doing traditional trick-or-treating please limit time exposed to individuals. The longer you spend in close contact with individuals the greater the risk of COVID-19 exposure
- Consider having a scavenger hunt in or around your home with household members instead of traditional trick-or-treating
- If an event will have more than 500 people in total attendance a written plan must be submitted to the Health Department 14 days prior to event.
Bennett says although the changes, that Terre Haute police will not look to arrest anyone over the new guidelines.
Instead, he is asking the community to comply and have a safe and happy Halloween.