By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The Colfax Village Board is urging residents to use common sense while trick-or-treating on Halloween to help with slowing the spread of COVID-19.
The Dunn County Health Department is asking that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for Halloween be promoted, said Lynn Niggemann, village administrator-clerk-treasurer, at the Colfax Village Board’s September 28 meeting.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, house to house trick-or-treating could be more risky this year, she said.
As is true in the rest of the state, Dunn County has been experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases, and as of 2 p.m. Friday, there were 658 total cases with 198 active cases, two people currently hospitalized and one death from the disease.
One week earlier, Dunn County was reporting 485 total cases, an increase of 173 cases in one week.
Niggemann said she had talked to Colfax Police Chief William Anderson about trick-or-treating, and the police chief suggested not letting kids “dig into candy bowls,” but rather to hand out candy.
Police Chief Anderson also suggested a “trunk or treat,” she said.
A trunk-or-treat is when cars park in a line and treats are distributed from the trunk while children walk from car to car.
Chippewa Falls is doing “drive by” trick-or-treating at the fairgrounds, said Gary Stene, village trustee.
Families will stay in their cars and drive by, and people will hand out candy, he said.
Anne Jenson, village trustee and owner of A Little Slice of Italy, said she planned to hand out candy on Halloween at the restaurant.
People should start thinking about this now so they can plan and get organized, Stene said.
If people do not feel comfortable with the idea of trick-or-treating, either do not go or have your children wear masks, said Scott Gunnufson, village president.
People should use common sense, noted Carey Davis, village trustee.
People should take the precautions they need to take in order to stay safe, Jenson said.
Gunnufson also suggested not handing out items such as apples, oranges or other fruit but instead only hand out individually wrapped candy.
The Colfax Village Board unanimously approved a motion to allow trick-or-treating with the use of CDC guidelines and common sense.
Trick-or-treat in Colfax is scheduled for 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, October 31.
Here are the guidelines posted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
• If you think you may have COVID-19 or may have been exposed, do not participate in in-person Halloween activities and do not hand out candy to trick-or-treaters.
Lower risk activities —
• Carve or decorate pumpkins with members of your household and display them.
• Carve or decorate pumpkins with neighbors or friends outside and maintain a safe distance.
• Decorate your house, apartment or living space for Halloween.
• Conduct a Halloween scavenger hunt for your children and give them lists of Halloween-themed items to look for as they walk outdoors to admire Halloween decorations.
• Hold a virtual Halloween costume contest.
• Hold a Halloween movie night with the people in your household.
• Conduct a scavenger hunt trick-or-treat search with members of your household in or around your home rather than going house to house.
Moderate risk activities —
• Hold one-way trick-or-treating where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to take at the end of the driveway or the edge of the yard, while maintaining social distancing from others. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after preparing the goodie bags.
• Hold a small group, outdoor, open-air costume parade where people are distanced more than six feet apart.
• Attend an outdoor costume party where people are wearing masks and where people can remain more than six feet apart. A Halloween costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask. A costume mask should not be used unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose with no gaps around the face. Do not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it more difficult to breathe. Consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.
• Attend an open-air, one-way, walk-through haunted forest where mask use is enforced and people can remain more than six feet apart. If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.
• Visit pumpkin patches or orchards where people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, where wearing masks is encouraged or enforced and where people are able to maintain social distancing.
• Hold an outdoor Halloween movie night with local family and friends with people spaced at least six feet apart. If screaming will likely occur, a greater distance is advised.
Higher risk activities —
Avoid these higher risk activities to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
• Avoid using drugs and alcohol, which can cloud judgement and increase risky behaviors.
• Do not participate in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door to door.
• Do not have trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in parking lots.
• Do not attend crowded costume parties held indoors.
• Do not go to an indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming.
• Do not go on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household.
• Do not travel to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19.