NEW JERSEY — You can dress like a knucklehead this Halloween but that doesn’t mean you can act like one, Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday while touching on the state’s health department guidelines for the spooky holiday to come.
At his coronavirus press briefing out of Trenton, Murphy said Halloween is still on this year despite the global pandemic.
It'll just look a lot different.
“First and foremost, the department is encouraging everyone to wear a mask that covers both the nose and mouth... a costume mask does not count as it does not provide the necessary level of protection,” the governor said. “The department's guidance also strongly encourages that instead of placing treats directly in the bags of trick or treaters or filling communal bowls that multiple hands will reach into, the treats be arranged in such a way that they can be quickly and safely accessed without multiple pieces being touched.”
New Jersey continued to see a rise in its outbreak Monday, with health officials announcing an additional 522 cases (208,713 total) and two more deaths (14,351 total confirmed and 1,787 considered probable).
Roughly a third of the newly-announced cases belong to Ocean County — which is now considered a “hotspot” statewide — and Monmouth County. Of the 522 cases, 119 trace back to Ocean County (86 specifically in Lakewood) and 48 trace back to Monmouth.
The Garden State’s daily positivity rate is 2.62% and the rate of transmission (Rt) is 1.27. In hospitals, 507 patients are in treatment (320 definitely known to be COVID-19 positive), 102 people require intensive care and 34 patients are on ventilators.”
“We know that in numerous communities, Halloween is more than just a fun activity, but a real tradition,” Murphy said today. “We want to ensure that everyone has the chance to enjoy Halloween, but we also want to ensure that everyone does that safely and responsibly.”
To bolster such efforts, Murphy implored residents to download the state’s COVID-19 app at covid19.nj.gov/app or by visiting the app store.
Outdoor activities will be especially encouraged this year, like corn mazes and hayrides, as they are deemed safer.
“As we know that the biggest threats for viral spread exist indoors. And as always, parties are subject to both indoor and outdoor gathering limits,” he said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which agrees that outdoor celebrations are preferable, also says traditional trick-or-treating is a “higher risk activity."
Outdoor Door-to-Door Trick or Treating
- Those who plan to trick-or-treat should limit their groups to current household members, consider staying local, and limit the number of houses on their route. Social distancing should be practiced between all who are not in the same household.
- For those putting out treats:
- Good option: Limit interaction or contact with trick-or-treaters, wear a mask when individuals come to the door, and regularly wash hands.
- Better option: Leave a treat bowl on a porch or table or in a place where it may be easily accessed while adhering to social distancing requirements.
- Best option: Arrange individually packaged candy so that trick or treaters can grab and go without accessing a shared bowl.
- Consider coordinating with neighbors to develop a system, such as signs or on/off porch lights, for distinguishing houses participating in trick-or-treating from those that do not wish to participate.
- Wear a face mask to mitigate against COVID-19 exposure. Costume masks are not an acceptable substitute but can be supplemented with a cloth or disposable mask. Children under two should not wear a cloth mask.
- Candy should be commercially packaged and non-perishable. Consider individual non- food “treats” to avoid sharing of food.
- Practice hand hygiene (wash hands or use hand sanitizer) before leaving your home, after touching objects such as wrapped candy, and when arriving home.
Outdoor Trunk or Treating (when children go car to car instead of house to house)
- Limit the number of participating cars to ensure adequate space for social distancing and minimize crowds. Ensure outdoor area has sufficient space per car to avoid overcrowding and to allow adequate space for social distancing.
- Follow the outdoor gatherings limitations in effect at the time.
- Design event in a long line, rather than a circle to ensure social and physical distancing to discourage crowding.
- Consider having assigned times or multiple shifts to minimize crowding during event.
- Wear a face mask. Costume masks are not an acceptable substitute but can be supplemented with a cloth or disposable mask. Children under two should not wear a cloth mask.
- Candy should be commercially packaged and non-perishable.
- Practice hand hygiene before the event, after touching objects such as wrapped candy, and after the event.
- Avoid large indoor or outdoor parties, which would be subject to the limitations currently in effect on indoor and outdoor gatherings.
- Keep up to date with the most current restrictions on outdoor and indoor gatherings.
- Avoid participation in activities that require close contact and/or shared items such as bobbing for apples
Haunted houses, hayrides, and corn mazes
- Wear a cloth or disposable mask while participating in these activities. As noted above, a costume mask does not suffice.
- Indoor haunted houses should be avoided because of the possibility of congregation and screaming in close quarters. If hosting a haunted house, ensure visitors maintain an appropriate distance by staggering start times and limiting occupancy. A better option would be to host an outdoor haunted house without live performers.
- Hayrides should limit the number of passengers per ride and keep openings to the same party. Any shared materials should be cleaned and sanitized after each use.
- Corn mazes should only permit individuals to proceed in one direction, should limit occupancy according to the applicable restrictions in effect at the time, and should avoid use of shared materials.
- Entities hosting these events are encouraged to take reservations and/or sell tickets in advance.
Examples of socially distant Halloween activities that would require minimal or no additional health and safety protocols include:
- Virtual activities such as online costume parties
- Drive through events where individuals remain in their vehicles and drive through an area/neighborhood with Halloween displays.
- Carving pumpkins with family.
- Dressing up homes and yards with Halloween themed decorations.
- Halloween themed movie nights with family.
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