'This is not the year for a street party:' San Francisco discourages partying in Castro on Halloween

Halloween is on Saturday, and city officials in San Francisco are urging people to cancel any large celebrations, including the annual gathering in the Castro.

The "Halloween in the Castro" event has been the place to party in costume for decades – dating back to the 1940s.

This year, officials are discouraging people from going there at all, to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

The city rules say you are not allowed to gather with groups of 25 people from more than three different households.

So a street party – completely out of the question.

City officials say many traditional Halloween activities pose a high risk of cross-contamination.

The official Halloween in the Castro event started in the 1940’s – but crowds started reaching unmanageable numbers and the official event was cancelled by the city after a shooting in 2006.

But the Castro has still remained a magnet for Halloween-lovers

That's because typically, Halloween consists of large crowds, elaborate costumes and people of all ages coming together for a night of fun at the bars and on the sidewalks. 

But because of the pandemic, costume stores are finding their shelves full of unsold merchandise.

At Cliff's Variety in the Castro, owner Terry Asten Bennet said she’s only sold 40 percent of what’s normal for Halloween – a sign of the pandemic.

"It would be wall-to-wall people in here," she said. "The costumes  would be obliterated you'd be lucky to have makeup left on the shelves.”

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman said that "this is not the year for a street party. It's not even the year to hang out with a bunch of your friends on the sidewalk.”

Mandelman is asking people who come to the area to dine or shop at the businesses on Saturday to leave as soon as they are done.

He said the city must put the safety and health of the community first.

Merchants in the Castro are still holding a touchless trick-or-treat for children on Saturday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.