Hallo-Week: How To Celebrate Halloween During A Pandemic

Nicky Andrews | The Phoenix

With Halloween creeping around the corner and COVID-19 numbers still on the rise, the city of Chicago aims to enforce the Illinois Department of Public Health’s (IDPH) updated Halloween and “Fall Festivities” guidelines. 

Despite vaccines being “readily available,” it’s crucial that individuals participating in celebrations are protecting at-risk individuals, such as children under the age of 12 who are not yet eligible for the vaccine, according to IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike’s statement for the IDPH Halloween and Fall guidelines.

“Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself, your friends and family, and your community,” Ezike said. “Use a layered approach by wearing a mask indoors and limiting/avoiding settings where physical distancing is not possible to help stop the spread of the virus.”

Along with being vaccinated, the guidance strongly recommends following state-specific protocol for celebrations this week and come weekend. In Illinois, this looks like masking-up and keeping gatherings small. 

In addition to state guidelines for parties, Loyola has its own Holiday Safety guidelines outlining party safety recommendations. While the standard protocol, which includes not serving alcohol to minors and being mindful of noise production, remains consistent, additional COVID-19 safety suggestions that align with IDPH guidelines are included as well. 

Safety guidelines specific to Halloween celebrations include being cautious of sharing drinks to limit potential exposure to COVID-19. Additionally, Loyola recommends students to avoid crowded bars and restaurants to minimize risk, according to the university’s Safety Net Coalition. 

As for repercussions for those failing to abide by COVID-19 campus and/or city protocol, Campus Safety or the Chicago police is warranted to end parties. 

Additionally, while trying to ensure a continued positive relationship with neighboring community members, the university strongly urges students to abide by  ‘Good Neighbor’ policy, which outlines students to “conduct themselves as mature and responsible neighbors when off-campus.”

Continuing into this week, the City of Chicago is required to follow the  Illinois Executive Order, which was issued Sept. 3 by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker. Under this order, all those who can “medically tolerate a mask” must wear one when in an indoor public setting, according to the IDPH. 

The guidance also states costume masks aren’t substitutes for protective masks and individuals are otherwise encouraged to incorporate face masks into their costumes. This should be done without layering traditional masks with costume ones, which would make breathing difficult. 

While masks are a new addition to Halloween this year, trick-or-treating is expected to continue as per the norm. 

However, due to rising COVID-19 cases, the IDPH strongly recommends that locals trick-or-treating in smaller groups for brief amounts of time. Additionally, those handing out treats are urged to open doors and windows for increased ventilation and thoroughly sanitize their hands either by washing them or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, according to IDPH guidelines. 

Alternatively, locals are urged to continue the trick-or-treating in community organized group settings as well, such as celebrating in a parking lot or collectively setting out candy ahead of time. 

For those interested in a good scare, the IDPH recommends going to “open-air” haunted houses, in order to keep COVID-19 transmission to a minimum. 

For some Rogers Park locals and Loyola students alike, social gatherings are going to be central to celebrations leading into the weekend. As per IDPH guidelines, indoor mixers “should allow for plenty of physical distancing” and encourage guests to wear masks in the presence of non-vaccinated individuals. 

In accordance with these protocols, students can also attend  student organization sponsored Halloween events, according to Loyola’s Halloween 2021 safety policies. 

Stay safe and Happy Halloween, Blers!

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