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Clay County health officials urge families to forego some Halloween traditions

Halloween Jack-o-Lantern
Halloween Jack-o-Lantern (Pexels)

GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. – The state health department in Clay County wants to encourage families to do Halloween virtually this year, or to stick with a small, family gathering.

Health officials are urging families in Clay County to practice social distancing to reduce the spread of COVID-19 during the holiday.

RELATED: Halloween activity recommendations from the CDC

Here are some guidelines from the health department:

During Halloween Celebrations

Limit close contact and maintain a distance of 6 feet or more with people you do not live with. Avoid busy areas and minimize gestures that promote close contact i.e. hugging, shaking hands, or fist bumps. Instead wave or verbally greet others.

Social distance and limit close contact

  • Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet or more from people you don’t live with. Be particularly mindful in areas where it may harder to keep this distance, such as restrooms and eating areas.
  • Avoid using restroom facilities at high traffic times, such as at the end of a public event.
  • Avoid busy eating areas, such as restaurants during high volume mealtimes, if you plan to eat out at a restaurant.
  • Minimize gestures that promote close contact. For example, do not shake hands, elbow bump, or give hugs. Instead wave and verbally greet others.

Wear masks

  • Wear a mask at all times when around people who don’t live in your household to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
  • Avoid singing, chanting, or shouting, especially when not wearing a mask and within 6 feet of others.
  • Do not use costume masks in place of cloth masks
  • Do not use a costume mask (such as for Halloween) as a substitute for a cloth mask unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers your mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around your face.
  • Do not wear a costume mask over a cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.

Limit contact with commonly touched surfaces or shared items

  • Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces and any shared items between use when feasible. Use EPA-approved disinfectants external icon.
  • Use touchless garbage cans if available. Use gloves when removing garbage bags or handling and disposing of trash. Wash hands after removing gloves.

Wash hands

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.

Keep safe around food and drinks

Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that handling food or eating is associated with directly spreading COVID-19. It is possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object, including food, food packaging, or utensils that have the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. However, this is not thought to be the main way that the virus is spread. Remember, it is always important to follow good hygiene to reduce the risk of illness from common foodborne germs.

  • Make sure everyone washes their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before and after preparing, serving, and eating food. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Instead of potluck-style gatherings, encourage guests to bring food and drinks for themselves and for members of their own household only.
  • Limit people going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as in the kitchen or around the grill, if possible.
  • Wear a mask while preparing or serving food to others who don’t live in your household.
  • If serving any food, consider having one person serve all the food so that multiple people are not handling the serving utensils.
  • Use single-use options or identify one person to serve sharable items, like salad dressings, food containers, plates and utensils, and condiments.
  • Avoid any self-serve food or drink options, such as buffets or buffet-style potlucks, salad bars, and condiment or drink stations. Use grab-and-go meal options, if available.
  • If you choose to use any items that are reusable (e.g., seating covers, tablecloths, linen napkins), wash and disinfect them after the event.
  • Look for healthy food and beverage options, such as fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and low or no-calorie beverages, at holiday gatherings to help maintain good health.

CDC recommends that you do not use a costume mask as a substitute for a cloth mask unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers your mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around your face.

Limit contact with touched surfaces or shared items. Wash your hands to prevent the spread of germs and illnesses. Don’t forget other safety issues that may pose a threat during Halloween celebrations such as traffic hazards, limited view with costume masks, and stranger dangers.


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