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Traditional trick-of-treating is a no-no, but MN health officials say there are ways to make it safer

There are safer ways to do trick-or-treating than going door-to-door, health officials say.
trick-or-treating, Halloween

Undecided about bringing your kids trick-or-treating on Saturday? For starters, traditional door-to-door and trunk-or-treating is not recommended by the CDC, but Minnesota health officials noted during a media call Wednesday that the CDC hasn't flat out said don't trick-or-treat. 

"They don't say 'thou shall not,' said Kris Ehresmann, infectious disease director with the Minnesota Department of Health. "They just say that if you're looking at levels of risk of how you choose celebrate Halloween, that would be something they would recommend against."

Ehresmann was responding to a question from Star Tribune reporter Jeremy Olson, who questioned the strict Halloween guidance the CDC and state health officials have been promoting. Olson's question, verbatim, was: 

"Moderate risk is spending 15 minutes with someone, and it also seems like there's not a lot of surface or fomite contact as a transmission risk so it makes me wonder about all these precautions over Halloween because a lot of those have to do with the handing out of candy. If there's not a lot of surface contact is that really something we need to deal with, same with just brief interactions at a door. Is all of this really necessary?

"You're absolutely right that we're talking about minimal contact," said Ehresmann. "I think that CDC is trying to help people recognize that an activity in which you are going from door-to-door and exposing yourself to multiple individuals that are not part of your household and taking things from those individuals, I think that they're saying 'you know what, the multiple elements of that make that a higher risk activity.'"

She added: "In other words, if you went to one door and left and didn't go to any others, that's one thing. But when you're going door-to-door-to-door that's concerning and then you're not only going door-to-door, you're taking things. That's what they're looking at in terms of classifying risk."

Instead of handing treats directly to trick-or-treaters, the CDC advises anyone participating in the traditional activity this year to instead wrap goodie bags and line them up at the end of your driveway or at the edge of a yard for trick-or-treaters to grab. 

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Ehresmann said traditional trick-or-treating, trunk-or-treating, crowded indoor costume contests and indoor haunted houses are "things that put you at much higher risk for COVID." 

Virtual costume parties and treat searches in your house and yard with household members only are recommended instead of traditional Halloween festivities this year. 

The advice from the Department of Health comes as Commissioner Jan Malcolm compared surging COVID-19 numbers in Minnesota to a "strengthening winter storm," noting that "when we're facing a winter storm we ask people to stay off the roads." 

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