TWIN FALLS — Halloween is next weekend, and health officials anticipate more people to be out either trick or treating or attending costume parties compared to last year.
“The CDC has cleared regular trick or treating to be very safe with low risk, especially if you are handing out candy outside," said Brianna Bodily, the spokesperson for the South Central Public Health District. "It is very likely more people are going to take advantage of that."
While the CDC has given the green light for children and their families to participate in trick or treating, the health district wants to remind people how they can stay safe while out and about.
Officials are encouraging residents to continue practicing COVID-19 safety protocols such as mask-wearing, social distancing, and especially washing your hands. Yet, these protocols are not just to protect people from COVID-19, but other respiratory viruses that are common this time of year, such as the flu.
“The flu virus can actually spread very easily from surfaces," said Bodily. "So, it can potentially be passed from your hands onto candy that that child will touch and then put in their mouth. So it is really important that you take a couple of precautions.”
Health officials are also recommending, that if possible, try and give out candy using alternative methods to limit contact with strangers.
“Prepackaging your candy, putting a couple of pieces into a little baggy, or putting out a bowl of candy where kids can grab on their own," said Bodily. "The prepackaged idea works a little better because if you have a lot of hands reaching into the bowl, there’s more chance of spreading like a cold or flu virus.”
One of the other main concerns that officials have is group sizes, particularly at an indoor Halloween party. They recommend that people try and stay with small groups in an effort to mitigate spread.
“Whenever we get into those big groups, that's typically where we see the disease spread," said Bodily. "Now you’re good to be outside as you trick or treat, so that really helps. But you still want to try to stick to smaller groups, especially people who are in your own little bubble."