Numerous questions are being asked about whether trick-or-treating will be allowed in the city.
However, according to the Paragould Police Department, neither the city nor the department governs whether trick-or-treating can take place in a given year.
“We understand, however, that this year there may be more questions and/or concerns regarding Halloween,” said Police Public Information Officer Brad Snyder.
“But the Paragould Police Department does not regulate the observance of Halloween,” he said. “We make no decisions whether or not trick-or-treating will occur, nor do we assign a specific day of the week to observe Halloween.”
Snyder said that taking into consideration the current status of the COVID-19 virus in Northeast Arkansas, along with recommendations from the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH), Halloween participation is expected to be down compared to years past. “As always, we hope that those citizens that do choose to participate in Halloween events and trick-or-treating do so in a safe manner,” he said.
Snyder referred those interested to a link to the state Department of Health (ADH) regarding its guidelines. According to the link, ADH quite predictably urged those who have tested positive for COVID-19 not to participate in any in-person Halloween festivities, including trick-or-treating or handing out candy.
The department also recommended the following guidance on trick-or-treaters’ costumes:
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. ADH also urged not to wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Instead, trick-or-treaters should consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.
Those activities the department recommended people avoid as “higher-risk” include participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door to door. ADH said people should also avoid trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots where social distancing between participants can’t be ensured. Attending crowded costume parties held indoors or large outdoor gatherings should likewise be avoided, as should indoor haunted houses where people may be crowded together and screaming and hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not household members.
ADH also recommended parents limit the number of houses children visit. It recommended parents allow children to eat only factory-wrapped candy that has been wiped off with a sanitary wipe.
The department also suggested lower-risk alternative activities to trick-or-treating. Such could include:
Carving or decorating pumpkins with household members and displaying them
Carving or decorating pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends
Decorating one’s house, apartment, or living space
Doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children receive lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house viewing Halloween decorations at a distance
Having a virtual Halloween costume contest
Having a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with household members in or around one’s home
Activities which ADH classified as “moderate risk” include:
Participating in 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). Those preparing goodie bags should wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after preparing the bags.
Having a small group (no more than 10 people), outdoor, open-air costume party or parade where people are distanced more than six feet apart.
Having a trunk-or-treat event where masks are worn and social distancing can be assured (i.e. in a large parking lot where treats can be funneled through a PVC pipe or placed in treat bags for participants to pick up instead of handed out directly).
Going to an open-air, one-way, walk-through haunted forest where appropriate mask use is enforced, and people can remain more than 6 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 enforced, and people are able to maintain social distancing.
More information is available at the website of the Arkansas Department of Health, https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/.