KNOXVILLE, Tenn — So many things have looked different this year, and now that may include Halloween celebrations.
The CDC and the Knox County Health Department released new guidelines about how to safely celebrate Halloween. They are meant to keep people safe while having fun.
In past years, Knoxville neighborhood Sequoyah Hills saw thousands of trick-or-treaters.
"I think last year we were told there were 2,000 - 3,000 children that showed up whether they lived here or not," said neighbor Doug Peek. He said he knows his family won't see that many kids this year.
"The fact we're going to be wearing masks for Halloween but also wearing masks for Halloween it's just a different world," he said.
He's ready to get creative for trick or treaters, along with his neighbors, but hopes people will stay distanced. He said they're shopping locally, and this may be the year to stay local while trick or treating.
Officials said that people should continue practicing the five core actions, which include practicing social distancing and wearing a mask.
"Make it as scary as you want to as long as you follow the five core actions," said Knox County health director Martha Buchanan.
The Knox County Health Department also said if people plan to dress up, don't substitute a plastic Halloween mask for a cloth mask. They also warned not to wear a costume mask over a cloth mask, since it makes it harder to breathe.
As for candy, prepackaged bags may have a lower risk of spreading the virus according to the CDC.
"Don't have something where people come in and grab from one bowl maybe sit out individual things," said Buchanan.
Carrying hand sanitizers and wiping off candy wrappers when you get home is also on the list of guidelines.
Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs also said he's hopeful the experience will be fairly normal for everyone. He asks for people to be respectful of homes that choose not to participate.
A Facebook post from Jacobs lays out health department guidelines:
- Wear a face covering when you can’t maintain appropriate physical distance. A costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth face covering and wearing one in addition to a cloth face covering is not recommended.
- Carry hand sanitizer and use it often.
- Refrain from having children select their own treats from a bowl/common container. Consider creative alternatives for contactless candy distribution like using a “grabber” tool or candy chute or placing treats in individual baggies and placing them in an easy-to-grab location.
- Avoid homemade treats and only distribute, and/or allow children to eat, factory-wrapped treats.
- Consider wiping all candy wrappers with sanitizing wipes upon arriving home and wash hands before and after eating candy/treats.
- Avoid large crowds and trick-or-treat with your household or a small group of neighbors/friends.
- Wear a mask when physical distancing can’t be maintained.
- Maintain at least six feet of physical distancing from those not in your household.
- Wash hands regularly.
- Disinfect commonly touched surfaces frequently.
- Stay home when you are sick or if you have been exposed to COVID-19.
For more information on safety guidelines, visit covid.knoxcountytn.gov/holidays.