No City-Sponsored or Permitted Halloween Events Allowed in Somerville due to Pandemic; Residents Urged to Substitute Safer Activities for Higher-Risk Traditional Trick-or-Treating
Social distancing, face coverings, and hand washing remain vital to slowing the spread of COVID-19
As part of the City’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone and the Somerville Board of Health announced Halloween guidance and related updates today. They strongly urge all community members to forgo trick-or-treating in favor of lower-risk activities as defined by the Centers for Disease Control such as at-home activities and holiday crafts. All in-person City-sponsored and permitted events, such as the annual Haunted Hall event or block parties, will also not be held or permitted. The limits on gatherings and all other pandemic safety orders in Somerville also apply to any planned private or commercial Halloween activities. As a reminder, gathering limits in Somerville remain lower than the State: no more than ten people may gather indoors or outdoors.
“We fully understand how difficult it has been for everyone, and especially our children, to deal with a sustained state of emergency. But as we face a rise locally and statewide in COVID-19 cases with the arrival of colder weather, we cannot let our guard down now,” said Mayor Curtatone. “We are a creative and connected community, and I hope each family, household, or bubble will choose safe but fun ways to celebrate this year at home that observe all health guidance. We really need everyone to do their part.”
Community members are encouraged to review CDC suggestions for lower-risk Halloween activities and MA Department of Public Health recommendations and guidance. Due to the higher risk of virus transmission indoors and in groups, parties are strongly discouraged, and as previously noted, gatherings of more than ten people are not allowed in Somerville.
“While celebrating holidays and observing traditions can provide a boost to your mental health, it is critical that we all commit to doing so safely,” said Health and Human Services Director Doug Kress. “The safest option is always to only gather with those you live with. We strongly advise against trick-or-treating, but if you do decide to go out, please follow CDC guidelines for reducing COVID-19 risk such as wearing face coverings, maintaining a six-foot distance from others, and frequent hand washing or sanitizing. Remember, it takes only one infected person to spread this disease among a group.”
Halloween Masks Don’t Replace Safety Masks
The CDC also provides the following face-covering guidance for Halloween:
- Do not use costume masks in place of cloth masks
- Do not use a costume mask (such as for Halloween) as a substitute for a cloth mask unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers your mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around your face.
- Do not wear a costume mask over a cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.
Alternate Halloween Activities: Howl-o-Ween, Spook-tacular Stroll, and More
To help support the holiday spirit, the Somerville Arts Council and Library are offering some alternative safe activities and the City is also hosting a citywide Howl-o-Ween, inviting community members to don a face covering and then give their best Halloween growls, ghost boos, and woops (or to just politely holler out their COVID-19 woes and frustrations) from their doors and windows at 6:30 p.m. on Halloween, Saturday, October 31.
The Arts Council is working on an online map of outdoor Halloween decorations for a self-guided Somerville Spook-tacular Stroll. On Friday, October 30, and Saturday, October 31, pull up the map at somervilleartscouncil.org/halloween and take a walk around your neighborhood to see how many ghosts, goblins, and ghouls you can find. Help everyone join in the fun by posting photos with the hashtag #SomervilleSpooktacular.
The Arts Council is also compiling a list of virtual Halloween happenings. If you’re planning to host a spooky virtual concert, show off your pumpkin carving skills online, or have a Halloween craft you’d like to teach others via the web, fill out the form on somervilleartscouncil.org/halloween to have your event included in the resource guide, which will be posted closer to Halloween.
The Somerville Parks and Recreation Department has planned a week of Halloween activities for children participating in its afterschool program. Currently, there are still open spots available on Monday, October 26; Tuesday, October 27; Thursday, October 29; and Friday, October 30. To register a child for the afterschool program, visit somervillerec.com and click on the “Programs” tab.
If you’re planning your own Halloween fun, the CDC considers the following activities to be lower risk:
- Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household
- 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
Again, the Board of Health strongly advises against trick-or-treating, and sharing links to safer ways to do so does not condone the activity. For those who choose nonetheless to provide or seek treats, the MA Department of Public Health has provided guidance on alternatives such as one-way trick-or-treating “with treats placed outside of the home for trick-or-treaters as a ‘grab and go’ while keeping distance from others.”
For more information and regular COVID-19 updates, visit www.somervillema.gov/coronavirus and sign up for City alerts at www.somervillema.gov/Alerts. We urge you to sign up for every alert method you are able to receive: phone call, text, email. Also follow FB.com/SomervilleCity and @SomervilleCity.
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