CAMDEN, NJ — What’s scarier than Halloween without trick or treating?

In a report released Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says traditional trick-or-treating and even trunk-or-treating — where cars line up to offer candy hands-free — is “high-risk.”

Walking down Vine Street with her four children, from 2 months to 9-years-old, Camden mother Arisleyda Rodriguez said she wasn’t taking any chances.

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“Este año va ser diferente,” she told TAPinto Camden. “This year will be different.”

“With everything going on with COVID-19, even though things are calmer now I don’t think I want to take the risk,” said Rodriguez, 30, who has lived in Camden for 18 years. “We’ll probably be inside that day, watching a movie and eating snacks. It may help for the city or the county to help us keep the kids entertained, but safety is the most important thing.”

A spokesman for the county says the health department is directing residents toward CDC guidelines, adding that municipalities also have their power to advise against trick or treating. 

Other behaviors deemed high-risk by the CDC this year due to the health crisis: going to an indoor costume party, visiting an indoor haunted house “where people may be crowded together and screaming,” partaking in hayrides or tractor tours with individuals not from your household, consuming judgment-impairing alcohol or drugs and taking a trip to a fall festival outside your area. 

For a list of moderate and low-risk activities click here.

“We know for a lot of communities this is still up in the air, but of course we’re doing what we can - with help from the county health department - to see what we can make a reality while following safety guidelines,” city spokesman Vincent Basara said over the phone. “We’ll consider special events, but as for what we’re all used to with door-to-door trick or treating we’re still working on guidance and will have something soon.”

Idalia Gomez, who has lived in Camden for about 20 years, sat on her porch as her grandson, Carlos, 4, rode his bike.

“Honestly, people don’t trick or treat around this area a lot,” she said. “Really it’ll be up to [Carlos’] parents whether he goes out that night, but I’m indifferent one way or the other.”

Gomez emphasized that the activity on a regular year isn’t too lively, noting that parents opt to travel to Cherry Hill or other parts of the city for their candy. 

“I usually buy juice boxes to hand out, and end up having to walk around the neighborhood myself to distribute them,” she added.

At the start of the month, Gov. Phil Murphy said that while Halloween is “still on,” it will look a lot different this year.

“Obviously, it’s not gonna be a normal Halloween,” Murphy said. “We’re gonna have to do things very carefully. I’m sure we’re gonna have protocols that we’ll come to. And God willing, the virus stays under control.”

Below are some “lower-risk” Halloween alternatives provided by the CDC:

  • Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household and displaying them

  • Carving or decorating pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends

  • Decorating your house, apartment, or living space

  • Doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance

  • Having a virtual Halloween costume contest

  • Having a Halloween movie night with people you live with

  • Having a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going house to house

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