Mayor Harry Rilling is strongly discouraging traditional Halloween activities, such as trick-or-treating, trunk-or-treating, indoor haunted houses, costume parties and social gatherings. Traditional trick-or-treating involves going house to house, ringing doorbells, knocking doors, and taking goodies often from a shared container. Any contact with individuals from outside of the same household presents a risk of spreading COVID-19.
“We are seeing a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases, and while I understand there is quarantine fatigue, and people are itching for normalcy, no amount of candy is worth putting loved ones in jeopardy. I encourage residents to make alternative plans this weekend, avoid going door-to-door with neighborhood friends, and do not gather in groups for parties or events. It is an unnecessary risk that I ask us all to avoid given the current health conditions in our community,” Mayor Rilling said. “Please consider the health and safety of family and friends and follow all public health guidance. I thank the many groups, businesses, and organizations who have postponed or modified their Halloween events to meet the recommendations from the state Health Department. We must continue to take COVID-19 seriously.”
Last week, the City was notified that it reached “red-alert” status per the State Department of Health. The alert is based on having more than 15 positive COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over a two week period. The DPH has a list of recommendations for communities in red status, such as limiting gatherings and encouraging high-risk individuals to stay home. Additionally, the state Department of Health issued guidance to modify Halloween activities to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has recommendations for safer Halloween activities, such as carving pumpkins or visiting an orchard.
“Trick-or-treating brings an increased risk of spreading the virus as people are having prolonged close contact and touching shared objects. It’s also not just going to one house; it involves going to multiple houses and meeting multiple groups which increases the risk of exposure,” said Deanna D’Amore, Director of the Norwalk Health Department. “Traditional Halloween activities bring groups of families and friends together from different households which goes against public health guidelines. COVID-19 is spreading across the community and I fear Halloween activities will make the virus even harder to contain.”
While an order canceling Halloween has not been given, the public is reminded to follow all public health guidelines, which, if violated, may result in fines. Wearing a costume or Halloween mask should not be considered a substitute for a cloth or surgical face covering. The complete guidance from the state Department of Health can be found at bit.ly/2020HalloweenGuidance.
The Norwalk Health Department and Norwalk Police Department will have increased enforcement and spot checks of businesses throughout the weekend to ensure compliance with state and local health protocols. Residents can report issues to the Norwalk Police Department non-emergency line at (203) 854-3000.