Published October 30, 2020

MELROSE— The Melrose Police Department would like to share safety tips and guidance regarding Halloween activities to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Recommended trick-or-treating hours in Melrose are 6-8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 31. However, the City advises community members should made modifications to traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating should they choose to participate and residents should also seek out low-risk ways to celebrate Halloween to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“We want everyone to have a safe, happy Halloween, and are urging families and the greater community to consider lower risk alternatives to celebrate this year to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” Chief Michael Lyle said. “Parents and guardians are also reminded of general Halloween safety tips, like making sure your child is supervised and has a costume that is weather appropriate and does not pose a risk for causing them to trip or otherwise get injured.”

Those who do not wish to participate in Trick-or-Treat are asked to shut off their outdoors lights as an indicator.

Residents are asked to take the following precautions from the Department of Public Health and the Melrose Board of Health if they choose to trick-or-treat this year:

• Wear a face mask or face covering with your costume that is effective at limiting the spread of COVID-19, and make sure your mask covers both your nose and mouth. For more information on face masks and face coverings, please see the state’s Mask Up MA webpage.

• Observe good hand hygiene, including hand washing and use of alcohol-based sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol. Carry hand sanitizer and use it often, especially after coming into contact with frequently touched surfaces and before eating candy.

• Refrain from touching your face.

• Stay home and refrain from Halloween activities, including handing out Halloween treats, if you feel unwell or have any COVID-19 symptoms; you have tested positive for COVID-19; you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19; or you have traveled to or from a state that is not classified as lower risk within the last 14 days. For more information on lower risk states, please see the state’s COVID-19 Travel Order webpage.

• Maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet of physical distance from all other participants who are not members your household.

• Avoid large groups and do not allow children to gather closely together at doorsteps.

Those handing out treats this Halloween are advised to:

• Wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds before and after preparing treat bags or candy.

• Line up pre-packaged treat bags for trick-or-treating families to take outside while maintaining social distancing, such as at the end of a driveway or yard.

• Wear a face covering or mask that covers your nose and mouth.

• Maintain six feet of distance from trick-or-treaters.

Additionally, the Melrose Police Department would like to share the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists of several low and moderate risk alternative activities that community members can take part in for Halloween.

Lower risk alternatives include:

• Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household and displaying them, or at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends

• Decorating your house, apartment, or living space

• Doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance

• Having a virtual Halloween costume contest

• Having a Halloween movie night with people you live with

• Having a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going house to house

Community members may participate in moderate-risk activities, as long as they take the proper safety precautions. These include:

• Having a small group, outdoor, open-air costume parade where people are distanced more than 6 feet apart

• Attending a costume party held outdoors where protective masks are used and people can remain more than 6 feet apart. Please remember that 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. Do not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.

• 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 encouraged or enforced, and people are able to maintain social distancing

• Having an outdoor Halloween movie night with local family friends with people spaced at least 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.

Residents are asked to avoid higher risk activities this Halloween in order to prevent the spread of the virus. These activities include:

• Participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door-to-door

• Having trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots

• Attending crowded costume parties held indoors or any large indoor gatherings

• Going to an indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming

• Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household

• Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgement and increase risky behaviors

• Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19

Melrose Police also wish to share the following, general Halloween safety tips for children, parents/guardians and homeowners:

Children should:

• Never travel alone

• Wear clothing that is bright, reflective and flame retardant

• Use flashlights for guidance on sidewalks, walkways and when crossing the street

• Make sure masks have eye-holes large enough to see any tripping hazards or oncoming traffic

• Practice safe street-crossing by using crosswalks and walk signals

• Wear sturdy shoes and temperature appropriate clothing under costumes

Parents and guardians should:

• Supervise children under 12 years old

• Establish a designated curfew for older children

• Make sure children are wearing safe costumes that fit well and don’t drag on the ground

• Apply reflective tape to your child’s arms, legs and treat bags

• Assure costume accessories such as swords and other pointed objects are made with soft and safe materials

Homeowners should:

• Keep inside and outside lights on during trick-or-treat hours

• Avoid placing lit candles and jack-o-lanterns on doorsteps and walkways where costumes could brush against them and cause burns or fire

• Only give out candy that is packaged and wrapped

• Avoid handing out small toys that could cause choking or lead poisoning for small children

Additionally, any suspicious person or vehicle should immediately be reported to the Melrose Police Department at 781-665-1212.