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Communities begin making their trick-or-treat decisions

DURING LAST year’s festivities, young children attending storytime at St. Clairsville Public Library show off their Halloween costumes. Cade Taylor of St. Clairsville donned the mask and muscles of Mr. Incredible, while Caroline Ralston of St. Clairsville had a fairy’s wings. Siblings Jase and Brynn Otto of Bethesda also wore the outfits of a superhero and fairytale character, respectively.

MARTINS FERRY — Now that Gov. Mike DeWine has essentially given the OK for Halloween festivities to go ahead across Ohio, some local cities and villages are starting to give the greenlight for their residents to hand out candy during trick-or-treat sessions.

Not all local communities have made a decision yet.

Martins Ferry Mayor John Davies recently posted on social media that the city’s treat-or-treat will be held from 6-7 p.m. Oct. 31. On the city’s website an explanation was posted.

“We ask that you hand out candy curb/porch side for the safety of the children. We are also asking that the person handing out the candy, due to the pandemic, wear gloves and a mask,” the city states.

“We are doing this so our children can still have fun during this difficult time and dress up as their favorite goblin, superhero or princess. The city would like to remind all residents to be safe during trick or treating and have fun.”

The village of Yorkville also announced recently that its trick-or-treat session is set for 6-7:30 p.m. Oct. 31. No other guidance was given.

Across the Ohio River, the city of Wheeling is slated to hold its treat-or-trick from 6-7:30 p.m.on Oct. 31 as well. However, this plan could be changed based on the county’s COVID status at that time. West Virginia’s guidelines state that a county must either be in a yellow or green status to have trick-or-treat.

“The threat of COVID-19 still exists, and we don’t want to take any unnecessary chances with the health and well-being of our residents who will be handing out candy or the children who will be going door-to-door. Therefore, we will be paying close attention to the guidelines from the health department and perhaps the governor’s office and asking Wheeling residents to do the same,” Wheeling City Manager Robert Herron said in a press release.

The Ohio County Health Department requires that all trick-or-treat participants wear face masks, maintain social distancing and limit trick-or-treating to the community one lives in.

In Ohio, DeWine said recently that the state would not be handing down an order regarding trick-or-treat, but that the Ohio Department of Health would provide guidelines.

“Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to use caution and plan ahead for Halloween festivities. Decisions on whether to participate should be made by local communities, individuals, and parents/guardians,” the ODH states. “Always follow current state public health orders and rules/regulations established by your local community, and check the Ohio Public Health Advisory System to determine COVID-19 risk levels in your county before making decisions about Halloween activities.

“Some communities may choose to cancel Halloween events, so check with local sources before making plans.This guidance is designed to help curb the spread of COVID-19. It will be reassessed and updated as the situation evolves and we learn more in the weeks leading up to Halloween.”

Ohio’s guidelines suggest that traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating be avoided, that drive-through or more socially distant events be held instead. However, if people choose to go door-to-door they should try not to get too close to those giving out the candy. The ODH also recommends people sanitize the factory-wrapped candy they receive by wiping it off first before eating it. Homemade or unwrapped candy should be thrown away.

“If your child is at greater risk of complications from COVID-19, contact your doctor before allowing participation in Halloween activities,” the ODH states.

“For trick-or-treating, reach out to neighbors to discuss ways to ensure 6-foot social distancing, how candy can most safely be distributed, and the need for face coverings. Refrain from having children select their own treats from a bowl/common container or set up a hand-sanitizing station.

“Consider placing treats on porch steps or a table in the driveway with a sign asking children to take only one. Or use other creative ways to distribute treats, such as using a candy ‘slide’ made of PVC pipe, or hanging treats from a wall.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes trick-or-treating and trunk-or-treats as “high risk” activities for spreading coronavirus. Indoor haunted houses, hayrides or tractor rides are also listed as high risk. The CDC says to lessen the risk of transmission while giving candy, though still considered “moderate risk,” is to set up a grab and go station and allow children to pick up individually wrapped bags of treats from a table at the end of a driveway or yard.

“If you are preparing goodie bags, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after preparing the bags,” the CDC states.

One of the lower risk activities suggested in place of trick-or-treating is to hold a scavenger hunt for treats in and around one’s home with only people who live in the household.

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