Contra Costa Co. health officials advise against trick-or-treating, offer safety tips

Another upcoming celebration that’s going to be impacted by the pandemic is Halloween. On Wednesday, health officials in Contra Costa County urged families to avoid trick or treating calling it too risky.

The health department’s number one concern is crowd control and they said trick or treating puts families at risk.

At the Spirit Halloween store in Emeryville, six weeks out until Halloween and already people are figuring out what to be.

“Some of our popular costumes are Harley Quinn from Birds of Prey, a lot of clowns, lot of cartoons, and hippie costumes,” said Store Manager Maria Rogers.

Doctor costumes are popular too. What’s even harder than picking out a costume is figuring out how to celebrate Halloween during a pandemic.

“You just don’t know who’s on the other side of the door serving the candy,” said David Jaramillo of Concord. “You don’t know if they took all the precautions to keep people safe.”

“There’s the mask that we are asked to wear and the masks from Halloween we want to wear,” said Dr. Rohan Radhakrishna, Contra Costa County deputy health officer. “We can wear both and still have fun.”

Dr. Radhakrishna plans to carve pumpkins with his own children. He won’t be trick-or-treating. State Health Secretary Mark Ghaly gave similar guidance this week.

“It’s hard to keep physical distancing of six feet when you're on porches and sidewalks,” said Dr. Radhakrishna. “The gatherings just get too close to play it safe. It’s an invisible virus with 40 to 50 percent of cases of people without any symptoms.”

Dr. Radhakrishna is against anything that promotes people congregating and drawing a crowd, even leaving candy out isn't recommended.

He worries Halloween falling on a Saturday night, people will let their guard down.

Safer alternatives include decorating homes and porches, Zoom costume parties and car parades.

Oakland mother Sylvia Madison feels if people are allowed to outdoor dine and shop, why can’t they trick or treat.

“I feel like kids will be robbed if they aren’t able to,” said Madison. “I feel like if masks are worn it shouldn’t be a big problem.”

“We are not banning trick-or-treating,” said Dr. Radhakrisna. “Los Angeles tried that but had to walk it back. We are recommending against it because we know it’s risky. The number of people coming into close contact is dangerous.”

Talia Lahham enjoys trick-or-treating as an adult. This year, she’s planning to dress up at home.

“The child in me of course still wants to go outside but I think it’s important we think about other people first,” said Talia Lahham of Emeryville.

Contra Costa County’s deputy health officer is also against trunk or treating, getting candy from people's cars. He advises families to look at school or city sponsored activities. The Spirit Halloween store manager said a lot of customers plan to have parties at their homes and watch scary movies.