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October 06, 2020

Philly allowing trick-or-treating, but urging people to 'be afraid' of COVID-19

City's Halloween safety guidelines outline steps to collect candy while avoiding the coronavirus

Prevention COVID-19
philly halloween guidance 2020 Valery Sharifulin/Sipa USA

Halloween celebrations are still permitted to take place in Philadelphia amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but officials are asking residents to adhere to safety guidelines.

Philadelphia will not cancel Halloween festivities despite coronavirus cases inching upward during the last week. 

Instead, city officials are urging participants to follow specific safety precautions outlined in a set of guidelines released Tuesday. 

Trick-or-treaters can go door-to-door to collect candy, but people should not gather in groups, Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said. Only members of the same household should be within six feet of one another. 

Trick-or-treaters should wear masks – specifically "masks to prevent COVID-19, not the scary Halloween kind," Farley said. 

People passing out candy should leave the treats in a clearly marked area for children to collect rather than distributing them by hand. They also should maintain six feet of distance and wear masks. 

People should not participate in celebrations if they are sick, received a positive coronavirus test result, or have been exposed to the virus. Trick-or-treaters also should limit the number of houses they visit.

Alternatives to trick-or-treating, such as socially-distanced Halloween car parades or costume parties held via video conference, also are recommended.

"You should be afraid of the coronavirus," Farley said, referencing the tweet President Donald Trump sent Monday to announce his departure from the hospital. 

COVID-19 cases are increasing in Philly ahead of the October holiday, Farley said.

New confirmed cases have risen to about 110 per day with 3.9% positivity rate during the past week, Farley said. That's an increase from the prior week, which saw about 86 cases per day and a 2.9% positivity rate. 

Farley called the increase "a cause for concern" but said the reason behind the spike is unclear. 

One cluster of new cases is concentrated in the Northeast Philly across all age groups. There also is a growing number of new cases among young adults on college campuses.

"The risk (of coronavirus transmission) is increasing right now," Farley said. "People should be especially concerned about wearing masks to protect themselves and those around them."


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