Montrose County Public Health wants the community to enjoy the Halloween festivities, and offers some consideration on ways to make it a safe holiday navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We want to do everything we can to spread the cheer of Halloween and the holiday season, but making sure we’re doing so safely and as safe as we possibly can,” Montrose County Media Relations Manager Katie Yergensen said.
The county is expected to release holiday-specific recommendations soon as they adhere to guidelines set by the state and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). (Montrose County is currently in Safer Level 1 on the state’s COVID-19 Dial Dashboard.)
CDPHE in early October released tips and tricks for families and individuals to safely navigate the Halloween tradition, and encouraged alternatives to the normal door-to-door trick-or-treating.
Since door-to-door interaction can involve several different households meeting at close range, it’s important to communicate beforehand with neighbors and family on how to handle the night’s interactions. Choosing the safest options (outdoor gatherings, smaller groups, shorter time frame) are recommended.
CDPHE encourages getting creative in how treats are distributed this year, such as lining up bags of treats at the end of the driveway or cardboard tubes to deliver candy at a distance. It’s important, Yergensen said, that if you are feeling unwell, to opt out altogether this season. But if you are feeling well, find ways to get creative in a safe, socially distanced manner.
“We are encouraging people to spook safely,” Yergensen said.
Staying in the same neighborhood and with household members is also another safe step to consider, CDPHE outlined, while limiting time spent at doorways if going door-to-door. This helps avoid mingling with other groups and helps keep a six-feet distance from non-household members.
The community in the neighborhood can also work together to create a one-way flow system to help increase social distancing measures. Drawing directional arrows or distanced 6-feet points can help keep the festivities safely interactive.
CDPHE encourages mask use under a Halloween mask, as costume masks don’t act as a substitute for masks that can help against the spread of COVID-19. A Halloween-themed cloth mask can act as a substitute if it is difficult to don both a protective mask and costume mask.
If sick, staying home and avoiding a personal gathering also applies, Yergensen said.
With Montrose County in Level 1, there’s opportunity to have some gatherings or alternative celebrations that follow the dial guidelines. A small gathering with family and close friends — limited to 25 people or less — is an option, and one that’s safer if conducted outdoors.
CDPHE also detailed avoiding singing and shouting will also help decrease the risk of potential infectious spread.
If possible, avoid self-serve spreads or congregating areas, and provide increased ventilation by opening a window or door to improve ventilation. Keeping a list of guests with contact information should help streamline the process if there is COVID-19 exposure.
With the state encouraging people to make good choices, Yergensen added it’s beneficial to limit close interactions for a long period of time and to wear a mask. She also said to consider staying in an immediate area, adding to the safety precautions surrounding trick-or-treating.
Though somewhat limited, there will be events the community can enjoy. Mingle Sports Bar (235 N. 1st St.) is hosting a Halloween bash, with a costume contest, on Oct. 31 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for ages one through 12, and music and dancing for ages 13-20 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. After 9 p.m., the 21 and over crowd will have a chance at some to try a special Halloween menu with specials.
The venue will also host a costume contest a week before Halloween on Oct. 24 from 6 p.m. to midnight, a fundraiser for Dotties Dames Pinups, a local organization.
Local pumpkin patches are active this season. The pumpkin patch at the Covered Bridge Ranch, DeVries pumpkin patch and Peter’s pumpkin patch are all open to the community.
From 4 to 6:30 p.m. on Halloween, Rosemont Baptist Church will host “Trunk or Treat,” which will be COVID-19 compliant.
Museum of the Mountain West (68169 Miami Road) will host Ghost Tours on Oct. 31.
The county is planning to host a virtual costume contest and will release details once plans are finalized, which should be released sometime next week.
Josue Perez is a staff writer for the Montrose Daily Press