How COVID-19 is Changing Halloween
PUBLISHED: Friday, October 16, 2020

How COVID-19 is Changing Halloween

Novel coronavirus has touched almost every facet of American life in 2020. Businesses across the country have been shut down or left to operate at reduced capacity. Many of us have changed our habits to cut back or altogether eliminate unnecessary errands and hobbies. And numerous holidays and other special occasions—weddings, birthdays, graduation parties, etc.—have been adversely impacted. Now state and municipal governments across the country are announcing plans for modified Halloween celebrations, including trick-or-treating. While the specifics vary from location to location, there are some emerging commonalities to many of the plans. These are a few of the changes to Halloween 2020 that you’re likely to see in your area.

Haunted Houses and Other Attractions

Popular Halloween attractions like haunted houses, fall festivals, and pumpkin carving contests have been or likely will be canceled across much of the country. Others, like haunted hayrides and Halloween parades, are taking place on a limited or reduced basis; officials in Los Angeles County, for example, are allowing community “car parades” and events at drive-in theaters, while Salem, MA is allowing restaurants and museums to operate at limited capacity in lieu of the city’s usual festivities. In short, most indoor attractions are being canceled or replaced with smaller, more intimate experiences. Outdoor attractions seem more likely to be scaled back in size or operate at reduced rather than canceled outright, but, again, the specifics will vary from location to location.


Parents, children, and fun-loving adults will all be relieved to know that trick-or-treat will be, as of this writing, fair game in most parts of the US—though you may see additional rules or a smaller candy collecting window in your municipality this year. Los Angeles County recently reversed its controversial ban on trick-or-treating, while officials in other major metropolitan areas are signaling that they’ll follow suit and allow the tradition to go ahead this year.

On the other hand, public health officials are strongly discouraging door-to-door candy hunting this year. Antigo, WI has canceled neighborhood celebrations and, instead, will offer a drive-in Halloween experience—including candy—at their local fairgrounds. These sorts of location-based trick-or-treating events may become more widespread if and when the CDC releases new COVID-19 guidelines, or if state and local health officials’ warnings become more emphatic. But, for now, trick-or-treat will happen in some form across most of the US.