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People urged to tailor holiday celebrations to stay safe during pandemic
trick or treat
Guidance released by the California Department of Public Health strongly discourages traditional trick-or-treating and encourages families to plan safer alternatives due to the pandemic (Journal file photo).

With Halloween and Dia de los Muertos approaching and Thanksgiving just around the corner, the California Department of Public Health is advising residents that traditional celebrations might need to be revised in order to keep COVID-19 rates from increasing.

“COVID-19 continues to pose a severe risk and requires all Californians to follow necessary precautions to keep themselves and their communities safe,” said Dr. Erica Pan, Acting State Public Health Officer. “As a parent I know the difficulty of explaining the need to modify annual traditions because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that’s why the Department of Public Health is highlighting low-risk ways families can celebrate these holidays. Our ability to protect lives and limit the spread of COVID-19 depends on all of us taking the virus seriously. Wear a face covering, maintain physical distance and limit mixing with people outside your household.”

The guidance released by the CDPH strongly discourages traditional trick-or-treating and encourages families to plan safer alternatives. Suggestions include a candy scavenger hunt at home, scheduling online activities like pumpkin carving and costume contests, and car-based tours of Halloween displays.

The guidance also covers Día de los Muertos, a Mexican tradition celebrated in the Latino community honoring the deceased. Día de los Muertos celebrations often include gatherings of extended family as well as cemetery visits. Families are encouraged to place traditional indoor alters outside so others can view them from a safe distance, create virtual altars online and keep cemetery visits short in duration and limited to people within the same household.

Thanksgiving is typically a time when people travel to join family members around the dinner table, but for this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising people to skip the travel and instead have dinners that only include members of the same household.

Here in Stanislaus County, the weather might just be mild enough that residents could opt to do an outdoor Thanksgiving celebration. But even outdoors, people should still practice some basic safety precautions like maintaining social distances from people not in the same household and wearing masks when possible.

For a full list of suggestions from the CDC about hosting an outdoor gathering, visit