Plastic pumpkin filled with candy wearing a face mask

Halloween 2020: Make it Safe, Keep it Fun

As the holiday season begins with Halloween, traditional activities will look different this year, but there are many ways to celebrate while keeping your community safe.

We have outlined some traditional and modified activities with risk levels (low, moderate and high) to help you make this Halloween different, but still memorable.

In addition to the below activities, the Illinois Department of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have provided Halloween guidances with additional information to allow for safe Halloween celebrations. We also recommend checking with your local government for specific Halloween guidances they may have outlined.

Low- and moderate-risk activities can be enjoyed if everyone uses safe behaviors, including wearing a mask that covers your mouth and nose, maintaining a physical distance of six feet and washing hands often.

Lower Risk Activities

  • Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household and displaying them
  • Carving or decorating pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends
  • Decorating your house, apartment, or living space
  • 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 safe distance
  • A virtual Halloween costume contest
  • A Halloween movie night with household members
  • A scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home

Moderate Risk Activities

  • One-way trick-or-treating where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go while continuing to social distance (such as at the end of a driveway or at the edge of a yard)
    • If you are preparing goodie bags, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 second before and after preparing the bags
  • A small group, outdoor, open-air costume parade where people are distanced more than six feet apart
  • A costume party held outdoors where protective masks are used and people can remain more than six feet apart
    • A costume mask (such as for Halloween) is not a substitute for a cloth mask. A costume mask should not be used unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around the face.
    • Do not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.
  • An open-air, one-way, walk-through haunted forest where appropriate mask use is enforced and people can remain more than six feet apart
    • If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.
  • Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where:
    • People use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples
    • Wearing masks is encouraged or enforced
    • People are able to maintain social distancing
  • Having an outdoor Halloween movie night with local family friends with people spaced at least six feet apart
    • If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.

High-Risk Activites

Avoid these higher risk activities to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19:

  • Participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door to door
  • Having trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots
  • Attending crowded costume parties held indoors
  • Going to an indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming. Halloween haunted houses are currently not allowed in Restore Illinois Phase 4 Guidelines. Instead consider open-air, one-way haunted forests or haunted walks where social distancing of six feet or greater and appropriate masking is enforced.
  • Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household
  • Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgement and increase risky behaviors
  • Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19

Alternate Activity to Trick-or-Treating

An alternative activity involves trick-or-treating in a large parking lot or other outdoor setting with adherence to social distancing. Tables are pre-set up with participants allowed to parade with a parent/guardian while maintaining at least a six foot distance and wearing proper face coverings at all times.

A limited number of people should staff the event, keeping tables replenished and monitoring social distancing. Proper hand washing should be performed before candy is consumed.  

  1. Recruit a set number of table sponsors
  2. Create a timed entry schedule to figure out what the attendance limit will be
  3. Create a map of where tables will be with plenty of space between
  4. Advertise with information about reserved time slots, social distancing and mask wearing
  5. Package candies or favors in treat bags for easy distribution
  6. Create signage to direct the flow of foot traffic
  7. Draw markers on the ground to indicate six feet for social distancing
  8. Mask up and enjoy!

Trick-or-Treating Safety Tips

If you do Trick-or-Treat, follow these guidelines to stay safe:


  • Do not trick-or-treat if you are sick
  • Wear a mask—a costume mask should not be used in place of a cloth face covering
  • Trick-or-treat with household members only
  • Follow the direction of traffic to maintain one-way trick-or-treating
  • Remain six feet apart from people not in your household
  • Do not take candy or treats directly from people
  • Wash your hands, or use hand sanitizer, frequently


  • Do not hand out candy if you are sick
  • Do not hand out candy or treats directly to trick-or-treaters
  • Encourage one-way trick-or-treating in your neighborhood
  • Line up candy in an open area, like a driveway, in pre-packaged bags, or throw candy to sidewalks to avoid contact
  • Wear a mask, keep your distance and wash your hands frequently


  • Talk with your children about safety and social distancing guidelines and expectations
  • Guide children to stay on the right side of the road always to ensure distance and one-way trick-or-treating
  • Carry a flashlight at night and ensure your children have reflective clothing
  • Wear a mask, keep your distance and wash your hands frequentl
  • Inspect candy

If you participated in higher-risk activities or think that you may have been exposed during your celebration, take extra precautions for 14 days after the event to help protect others. You should: