Chalk up one more 2020 event being canceled by the coronavirus: Halloween.
Trick-or-treating, haunted houses and Halloween parades have been nixed under new Los Angeles County health guidelines.
“Since some of the traditional ways in which this holiday is celebrated does not allow you to minimize contact with non-household members, it is important to plan early and identify safer alternatives,” the Department of Public Health said in a statement.
The news was not well-received by some residents, and even a few celebrities took umbrage with the rules. (Warning: Link includes profanity.)
“I do not agree with the new measures in place,” said Joanna Cortez, an Elysian Valley resident with two nieces and a baby on the way.
“Trick-or-treating is an outdoor activity,” she said, noting that wrapped and packaged candy can easily be sanitized before being consumed. “We can have measures in place like social distancing and leaving out candy in a bowl for children versus actually handing out candy.”
But other community members weren’t so sure. James Lamb said that in previous years, he’s had hundreds of trick-or-treaters at his Burbank home on Halloween, but in light of the pandemic, it doesn’t seem like a good idea this year.
“I don’t think there is any good alternative at this point, short of buying your own kids candy and just staying home, unfortunately,” said Lamb, the father of an immunocompromised child.
Health officials insist it can be difficult to maintain proper social distancing on porches and at front doors when children are trick-or-treating.
Other Halloween events — including “trunk or treats” involving car-to-car candy dispersal, which are sometimes held by churches or schools — also are banned. In addition, large gatherings or parties with non-household members — either indoors or outside — will not be permitted under the new health order.
And despite the potential for disappointed children, representatives from the candy industry said they, too, stand behind the county’s decision.
“We appreciate L.A. County’s guidance on how to celebrate the Halloween season in Southern California in ways that inspire creativity and keep Californians safe,” Carly Schildhaus of the National Confectioners Assn. said Wednesday.
The latest guidelines also prevent carnivals, festivals and haunted house attractions, and instead encourage online parties, car parades that comply with vehicle parade protocols and Halloween movie nights at drive-in theaters that meet health and safety standards.
Annual Halloween events such as Knott’s Scary Farm and the Oogie Boogie Bash at Disneyland have already been canceled because of the pandemic.
The county won’t strip away all Halloween celebrations. Halloween meals at outdoor restaurants, Halloween-themed art installations at outdoor museums and dressing up homes and yards with decorations are still allowed — provided they comply with countywide COVID-19 protocols.
The latest guidelines follow a scorching hot Labor Day weekend, in which public health officials urged residents to stay home to avoid holiday-related outbreaks such as those tied to Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.
As of Wednesday, COVID-19 has claimed more than 13,800 lives in California, with over 744,000 confirmed cases.