Chester Township Trustees in early September set a date for trick-or-treating in the township, a routine matter in years past. But just a few days later, township leaders said the Oct. 31 date was just a placeholder to be revisited next month.

Chester trustees, who initially took the action more than six weeks before the holiday, are probably not the only ones looking forward to the annual celebrations that traditionally include bonfires, carving pumpkins, apple bobbing, haunted houses and creative costumes. After all, smells of pumpkin spiced lattes, cereals and cakes already surround us.

But what will Halloween 2020 be like in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic that right now seems to have no clear end in sight?

Geauga County Health Commissioner Thomas Quade said earlier this month that in the event it is determined that trick-or-treating and other such events can be done safely, people will decide individually whether to host or attend events. That, of course, was before COVID-19 cases increased in Geauga County, pushing its status on the state’s four-level public health advisory system from yellow, the lowest, up one notch to orange. The orange level is defined as “very high exposure and spread,” with officials recommending limiting activities as much as possible. Cuyahoga County also is in the orange zone.

The case levels could easily go up or down in any county across the state in the next several weeks.

But in general, we believe the traditional trick-or-treating activities when children go door-to-door to get candy and show off their costumes should be extremely limited or even called off.

We hear your gasps. But erring on the side of caution is the best path to take during this health emergency.

That doesn’t mean that all activities need to be avoided. Parents can plan family events or gatherings of ten or fewer people, as advised by health experts. Have a pumpkin carving party, a candy scavenger hunt around your house for the kids, a Zoom costume party, or watch some scary movies at home.

In the meantime, the Ohio Department of Health has issued recommended best practices for Halloween. They include: limiting the number of houses for trick-or-treating, engaging in social distancing from people who open their doors, sanitizing the wrapped candy, avoiding homemade treats from outsiders, washing hands before eating treats, wearing a face covering and keeping your distance. ODH also advises avoiding hayrides and haunted houses and eliminating activities like apple bobbing.

This pandemic should not be taken lightly. As of early this week, the U.S. had 6.92 million confirmed cases and 200,768 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.

Ohio recorded 145,850 cases and 4,635 deaths.

With a reasonable amount of caution and a bit of imagination, people can still have fun during Halloween. Start planning early. Oct. 31 is one day that few will object to wearing a mask.

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