As Halloween fast approaches, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be an ongoing issue across the world. With these unusual circumstances, the safety traditional celebrations of Halloween, such as Trick-or-Treating, is being called into question.
Below, editors Adam Rainbolt and Brayden Appell discuss the issue, with Rainbolt arguing against Trick-or-Treating and Appell arguing for it.
Adam: 2020 is not a normal year, and that should not be treated as such, even on holidays. Although trick-or-treating is undeniably fun, it’s just not safe enough to do this year. Halloween can still be celebrated in different ways, such as through watching scary movies or just enjoying candy with family and friends (in a socially distant way) that won’t risk spreading infection.
Brayden: Indeed, 2020 is not normal, and everyone should be taking social distancing seriously. However, the real question is why there has to be a conflict between trick-or-treating and safety, when there are ways that they can co-exist. For example, a bowl of candy outside of a house is a great alternative to the traditional door knocking procedure. As long as people are conscious about their actions, trick-or-treating can be safe.
Adam: There are some ways to trick-or-treat safely, there are too many ways not to. Many trick-or-treaters are very young and may not be fully aware of why social distancing is important. Furthermore, even many people who are not children do not take safety measures seriously. Because there’s no effective way to ensure that trick-or-treating is done responsibly it should be discouraged overall.
Brayden: There is some validity to all of those arguments, but there is also a very large issue presented. There may be “no effective way” to enforce safe trick-or-treating, but trying to stop trick-or-treating is another issue entirely. If the American people are told to not trick-or-treat, that is an extreme request and is more likely to be ignored than the mild request of avoiding close contact while still keeping up the fun tradition. Either way, there will be parents that let their children trick-or-treat, which presents a different issue. Is it worse to have people telling small excited children to go back home, or to grab their favorite chocolate bar from the bowl?
Adam: Well, yes. We’ve already seen that the American people have sometimes been resistant to being mandated to behave in certain ways in order to fight against the pandemic. But on that argument, there’s also the real possibility that those asked to trick-or-treat safely will ignore that request just as they would ignore the request to not trick-or-treat at all. As you mention, there are valid, relatively safe methods to trick-or-treat, as are outlined in this document published by the San Luis Obispo Health Agency. However, the methods that you outlined, such as having a bowl of pre-packaged candy, are not classified as the lowest risk activities, especially if everyone chooses to do them. Instead, if we encourage as many people as possible to celebrate in other ways (such as watching a scary movie with your family or friends in a safe way or in the many other ways that we can have fun without putting anyone in danger), the risk of infection for our community is lessened.
Brayden: The San Luis Obispo Health Agency document is a great resource, putting out some great and creative guidelines for safety. It will indeed be difficult to enforce, but if they are followed, it will allow for another wonderful night of trick-or-treating.
If you choose to go trick-or-treating, please be safe and responsible and encourage others to do the same. If you don’t want to trick-or-treat and want to do a different Halloween activity, don’t forget that you still should practice social distancing. If you don’t want trick-or-treaters coming to your house, keeping your front porch light off is a great way to express that. No matter what, be safe and have fun!