SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — As the holiday season approaches, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is advising people on how they can celebrate Halloween safety this year during the coronavirus pandemic.

“One of the hallmarks of holidays and celebrations is gathering with friends, family, and loved ones,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “We are still in a pandemic, and unfortunately, this year, that means the safest way to celebrate is to stay home and plan virtual gatherings.

“That said, IDPH recognizes that some who will choose to gather together anyway, and instead of denying that reality, we are issuing guidance and recommendations for safer ways to celebrate together in person. Remember, we know what our best tools are: wearing our masks, keeping our distance, limiting event sizes, washing your hands, and looking out for public health and each other.”

IDPH says if you think you may have COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone who does have the virus, you should not participate in in-person Halloween activities.

In a press release Wednesday, it issued the following guidelines for trick-or-treating:

  •  Anyone trick-or-treating, including those passing out candy, should maintain six feet of social distance and wear proper face coverings.
  • Consider leaving individually wrapped candy, spaced apart, on a table in driveways or in front of walkways, sidewalks, or any space outside where six feet of distance can be maintained.
  • A costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask — IDPH adds people should make sure their breathing is not impaired if a cloth mask is worn under a costume mask. If it does affect your breathing, do not wear the costume mask.
  • You should trick-or-treat in groups with only your household members.
  • Do not eat candy collected from trick-or-treating until after washing your hands.

IDPH also advised holding alternative trick-or-treating events by setting up tables with individually wrapped candy spaced apart in tables set up in a large parking lot or another outdoor setting, where children can parade past with a parent or guardian.

“It’s suggested to offer reserved time slots to limit everyone showing up at once,” the release said.

It adds haunted houses are not allowed, per guidelines set in Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan.

As for adult costumer parties and social gatherings, and Halloween parties at bars, IDPH says gatherings of more than 50 people or 50% more of a building’s maximum capacity are prohibited.

“The more time you spend at a gathering, the closer the contact, the more people, the higher your risk of exposure to COVID-19,” the release says.

IDPH also has safety tips for small social gatherings available here.

At pumpkin patches and orchards, IDPH says cloth face coverings should be worn, and social distancing should be enforced. Hand sanitizer should be used before handling produce, such as pumpkins or apples.

Hayrides should not exceed 50% capacity and parties should be spaced at least six feet apart, and face coverings should be worn at all times when around people not from your household.

If you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19 after participating in Halloween activities, IDPH advises that you take extra precautions for the next 14 days. They include staying at home as much as possible, avoid being around people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, and consider getting tested for the virus.

More information can be found by clicking here.