Halloween & COVID – Ireland 2020

Last Updated on November 4, 2020

What we know so far about Halloween restrictions.

As autumn is approaching and we are slowly returning back to normal, let’s not forget about Halloween. This is one of those yearly events children look forward to the most. They love the sweets, costumes and spooky atmosphere, however, because of COVID, nobody knows what it will be like this year.

Halloween witch on a broom and spooky house.

The NPHET has not made a clear statement regarding festivities such as Halloween yet, however, they did give us some information of what we can expect. Chief Medical Officer, Dr Ronal Glynn said:

“It comes back to the key message that the single greatest predictor of how safe or otherwise it will be to participate in activities, either at Halloween or Christmas or any other time, is the underlying circulating levels of the virus.” 

Depending on how the virus situation develops, further restrictions may be put in place. At this stage, counties are separately assessed to ensure not the entire country has to go on lockdown if there are spikes in infection rates. 

As of the end of September, Dublin has entered level 3 of lockdown. That means gatherings are permitted up to six people from no more than 2 households. 

These developments are not in favour of celebrations. Dublin City Council is expected to cancel Halloween events. Implementing social distancing at a 1000 + people outdoor gathering is not feasible and cannot be supervised. Councillor Noeleen Reilly said to the Irish Times:

“I just don’t see how it could safely go ahead this year. I think taking the decision to cancel these events now is the right thing to do.”

Halloween trick or treat. Lady and girl dressed up for halloween.

What does this mean for trick or treating?

There has been no official recommendation as of yet how to do trick or treating in a safe way. However, we all have gotten used to social distancing recommendations and health and safety measures over the past months. School and childcare facilities are staying open at all levels of the government Living with COVID plan. There is hope that trick or treating won’t be banned as it is an outdoor activity. Here are a few suggestions on how to make it safer this year for everyone. Most importantly at this time is to regularly check your local county council guidelines. 

How can we trick or treat this year?

Stay in your household or in groups of up to six people. Avoid person to person contact as much as possible. Sanitize hands regularly. Wearing a face covering is a good idea for adults and children over 13 years-old to minimise the risk of spreading especially if you are in a lively neighbourhood. Respect your neighbours if they decide not to participate in the celebration this year.

What precautions can I take at my house?

Social distancing could be adhered to by children not ringing the door but instead picking up a treat from in front of the houses. You could for example have a table outside at a safe distance from your door with treats for the kids spread out and ready to take. Like this, you can avoid kids all getting sweets from the same bucket and there will not be a gathering of multiple groups at your doorstep. It is recommended to have the treats in sealed packaging.

Halloween pumpkins.

What if we are not going trick or treating?

We all know someone in a vulnerable position that will not be able to go trick or treating this year. That does not mean Halloween can not be fun. 

  • Let us make sure as a community to decorate our houses really well this year so kids who will not be able to participate can do a tour of the neighborhood and enjoy the spectacular displays. You could have a look around even the evening before to avoid potential crowds.

  • Pumpkin carving cannot be missed out. Make your pumpkins extra spooky and put them in your window for everyone to admire.

  • Have a Halloween pyjama party and watch a spooky family movie with lots of Halloween treats. Sit around the fireplace, roast marshmallows, and tell each other some ghost stories. Getting in the spirit of the festivities together, dressing up, and just eating lots of tasty treats is going to make your kids happy for sure. 

  • Have a Halloween dance party. Get silly and play some funky Halloween tunes. Try dancing to your favourite songs like a skeleton, a zombie or a ghost and see who can do it best.
  • Go out and see what is on. This year there is an exclusive family event happening in Naas, Co Kildare. Safari Quest is an interactive drive-through exhibition that on for only three weeks starting at midterm. It is only open in the evenings and the lights and projectors are creating a mystical atmosphere, perfect for Halloween.

Most importantly, it is recommended to talk to your kids and let them know this year is different from other years but it does not mean it cannot be special. Make a decision that works best for your family and circumstances. Keeping yourself safe will also keep others safe.