SAN FRANCISCO - Halloween in San Francisco hasn't quite been the same since the unofficial mass gathering in the Castro was shutdown. The event regularly attracted half a million costumed revelers, but was marred following gun violence more than 10 years ago.
Last year's trick-or-treating and celebrations was pretty much canceled due to COVID.
But this year, as if back with a vengeance, Halloween weekend in the city coincides with Outside Lands' three-day, sold-out music festival in Golden Gate Park. Since we're still in a pandemic, local health officials and San Francisco Emergency Operations Center offered some words of caution ahead of the big weekend.
City officials advise everyone participating in these events and Día de los Muertos celebrations to do so safely. They say to use the "common sense" protocols many of us in the Bay Area have committed to memory these past 19 months. They include masking, being vaccinated (and boosted if you're eligible) and having good hand hygiene.
Outside Lands has not put on its annual fest since 2019 after it was postponed one year to August 2021 due to COVID. When the delta variant took hold around that time, the concert was delayed once again. Nonetheless, they're back and promise an eclectic mix of favorites including; The Strokes, Tyler The Creator, Lizzo, Tame Impala, Brittany Howard, Green Velvet and even a throwback with Nelly expected to hit the stage. It really is a little something for everyone.
SF's Department of Emergency Management has set up a text alert system through AlertSF in case an emergency happens during the shows Friday through Sunday.
"Attendees are encouraged to text message OUTSIDELANDS to 888-777 to receive text message notifications," SF DEM said.
"San Francisco’s hard work, sacrifice and commitment to keeping each other healthy and safe is paying off. This weekend kids can go trick-or-treating, families can celebrate loved ones who have passed, and concert goers can enjoy one of the premier music festivals in the world- all in person," said Mary Ellen Carroll, Executive Director, San Francisco DEM.
In person. Imagine that compared to the cards we were dealt last holiday season. And do recall that earlier this month, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's top infectious diseases expert, said families can feel safe trick-or-treating outdoors this year for Halloween, especially if they are vaccinated.
Health officials remind that masks are still required in most indoor public spaces including stores, restaurants, bars, public transit, healthcare settings and large indoor events regardless of your vaccination status.
"The health and safety of our community is our highest priority. As we mark the beginning of the holiday season and return to many social activities and gatherings, it is paramount that we take measures to avoid a new wave of COVID-19 cases this winter," says Dr. Naveena Bobba, SFDPH’s Deputy Director of Health. "Vaccinations offer the highest level of protection against the virus; those not yet vaccinated or eligible to receive booster doses should start that process today."
If you are attending Outside Lands, you should refer to their health & safety page to learn more about the entry requirements for attending the show.
City health officials remind if partaking in Halloween celebrations this weekend or the upcoming Día de los Muertos gatherings that outdoors is best. Consider limiting outdoor crowds, especially for unvaccinated children and remember to wash and sanitize hands frequently if you are trick-or-treating and handling candy. If you aren't feeling well, you should stay home.
For more on masks and face coverings from SF.gov click here.