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How to stay COVID-safe while trick-or-treating in 2021

Health expert Christina Master advises parents and children on how to enjoy Halloween safely this year, while keeping COVID-19 restrictions in mind.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Editor's note: The above video is from Oct. 25.

Children and their parents are eager to have a somewhat "normal" Halloween this year, as Disease Expert Dr. Fauci has given the green light on trick-or-treating.

Before indulging in Halloween festivities on Sunday, there are a few COVID-19 safety tips to keep in mind to ensure families stay healthy and COVID-free as we head into the holidays.

Christina Master, co-chair of School Health Committee and member of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a few quick tips to help those celebrating Halloween this year keep themselves and their loved ones safe.

Trick-or-treating

If you plan on trick-or-treating this year, Master advises doing so in small groups, not staying in one area for too long, and avoiding large groups of trick-or-treaters while attempting to fill up that candy bag.

"As an outdoor activity, walking door-to-door trick-or-treating can be safe, if we still follow those principles," she said. 

While the tradition of handing out candy to interact with trick-or-treaters and judge who has the best costume is something lots are looking forward to resuming this year, setting up a system for children to collect their candy with little face-to-face interaction is still the safest route Master suggests households take this holiday.

"The great idea from last year of having a table and chair outdoors with individually wrapped candy bags outside that kids can pick up easily should become a tradition," she siad. "It's great to see neighbors out in the neighborhood and it makes it easy for kids to get their candy."

To mask or not to mask? 

Master says if you're keeping outdoors this Halloween and fully vaccinated, then you may be able to leave the mask at home, that is if you're over 12-years-old.

Those 5 to 11 are still waiting on full FDA approval to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and should take extra precautions this Halloween to reduce their exposure to the virus.

Thinking of attending a Halloween party on Sunday? Bring a mask just to be safe, Master says. 

"Masks should still be worn indoors for any events with large groups of people in areas of high transmission—which is still most of the United States—as of this week," she said. 

If a mask just isn't going to work for your costume this year, check to see if the host is confirming vaccination status. If everyone in attendance is fully vaccinated, Master says then you can consider against the mask.

If a haunted attraction is where you'll be spending the holiday this year, keep in mind if the attraction is primarily outside or indoors. Groups will most likely be in close proximity to one another, due to lines and strictly indoor attractions.  

Master advises customers to keep their distance as much as possible in areas with clusters of people and to wear a mask to avoid transmission when inside the attraction. 

Some haunted attractions are allowing their actors to touch customers this year, thus wearing a mask can help maintain some space between yourself and the actors, who will most likely be violating your six feet of space.

If everyone does their part to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 this year, then Americans can safely enjoy their Halloween, a tradition that dates back 2,000 years ago to the ancient Celtic festival of the Samhain, according to History.com

"Because of everyone's efforts with masking, distancing, and getting vaccinated, we are able to have a Halloween where kids and families can trick-or-treat outside and have fun," Master said. "If you haven't yet, and you are eligible, get your COVID-19 vaccine. You won't be fully protected until a few weeks after your second one, but it is never too late to get started. Don't forget your flu vaccine as well." 

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