HONOLULU (KHON2) —  Halloween is a time of gathering and creative expression. But with the coronavirus pandemic, city officials are urging residents and visitors to forgo this year’s celebration.

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Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell held a news conference on Wednesday afternoon urging residents to not partake in traditional Halloween festivities, like trick-or-treating, in efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.

“Halloween is a great holiday, but this Halloween is unlike any that we’ve had. We are living with this virus. It is among us. It will be out there,” the mayor warned.

Mayor Caldwell said that the county could be in Tier 3 by Thanksgiving, but Halloween is a test. Gatherings during past holidays such as on the Fourth of July led to more COVID-19 cases.

The city came up with a set of safe, moderately safe and unsafe activities for Halloween. It said that celebrations at home within the household are considered safe, while contactless trick-or-treating door-to-door is considered moderately safe.

The Queens Medical Center Chief of Pediatrics Dr. Nadine Salle said that there are ways families can celebrate safely by modifying the yearly traditions.

“Why don’t you make the treats for your children in advance with the group that you’re going to do the Halloween rounds with?” Salle suggested. “You can decide what they get.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said individually prebagged treats packaged by clean hands and left outside for trick-or-treaters can be a moderately safe way to trick or treat. Dr. Salle said this does not mean leaving a basket of candy outside for kids to dig in.

She said, “These little hands come in and they touch every candy. You multiply that by every group of children that walks through the house–that’s a lot of touching.”

Large parties and indoor haunted houses will not be allowed this year under the county’s orders.

The city announced that it will be working with the Honolulu Police Department (HPD) to enforce Mayor Caldwell’s emergency order, which currently bans gatherings greater than five. The mayor added that mask wearing and social distancing will still be required for those that choose to go out.

HPD Police Chief Susan Ballard added word of caution to those planning to gather despite the order not to.

“We’re also going to have additional staffing around the island. If we get calls or if we see a large gathering, our officers will be there to enforce. Please don’t make the police the bad guy. Police yourself so we don’t have to do it for you.

Susan Ballard, Chief of Police, Honolulu Police Department

HPD put out alternative ideas for family and friends looking to celebrate the holidays including having a virtual costume party, setting up spooky displays around the house and even participating in the city’s drive-through movie theater or drive-through haunted house where social distancing can be enforced.

These activities and more can be found on HPD’s website.

For more information about the mayor’s emergency order, click here.

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