Santa Barbara County Public Health allows for modified Halloween activities

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Spooky season isn’t fully canceled this year, but it will need to be celebrated differently.

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department recently released guidelines for safely celebrating fall festivities, including classic Halloween activities like trick-or-treating.

SAFE AND SPOOKY Santa Barbara County released guidelines for Halloween, encouraging alternatives to traditional activities, but didn't explicitly ban trick-or-treating. - FILE PHOTO BY WENDY THIES SELL
  • FILE PHOTO BY WENDY THIES SELL
  • SAFE AND SPOOKY Santa Barbara County released guidelines for Halloween, encouraging alternatives to traditional activities, but didn't explicitly ban trick-or-treating.
While the county strongly encouraged alternatives to trick-or-treating—such as watching Halloween movies at home, virtual costume parties, or decorating one’s home—the Public Health Department did not go as far as banning door-to-door candy crawls in its guidelines.



Los Angeles County, by comparison, explicitly banned trick-or-treating this year on Sept. 9, but later backtracked on the ban and instead strongly advised against the activity. LA County’s COVID-19 metrics are worse than Santa Barbara County’s, according to the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, with LA County still in the purple tier.

During an Oct. 2 press briefing, Santa Barbara County Public Health Director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso emphasized that existing orders remain in place, which would presumably limit traditional trick-or-treating to a large extent.

“I also want to remind everyone that gatherings with individuals outside your household are currently not allowed in our county,” she said. “We highly encourage everyone to celebrate creatively this year without gatherings and have included ideas in our guidance.”

Public health did not respond to a request for comment on the county’s plans to enforce existing gathering bans on Halloween night.

One alternative the county recommended is trunk-or-treating—where people put candy in the back of open car trunks for kids to take—for the purpose of distributing candy while maintaining a safe, social distance.

“Park cars at least 8 to 10 feet apart from each other,” the guidelines stated. “Do not cluster in groups. If lines form, keep people at least 6 feet apart.”

Do-Reynoso added that those participating in Halloween activities must wear a face covering, even when outdoors.

“We encourage parents to allow their child to select their own safe face covering,” Do-Reynoso said. “Decorate a face covering together to match your child’s costume, and don’t wear a costume that prohibits you from wearing a face covering.”

The county also offered car parades or a daytime, socially distanced costume parade as alternatives to trick-or-treating.



“Place treats where kids can pick them up along the parade route,” the guidelines stated. “Alternatively, provide a bag of treats at the end of the parade. Be careful not to allow spectators or crowds to gather at these types of activities.”

Second district supervisor and board chair Gregg Hart also announced a countywide virtual costume parade that will air on Halloween.

“Send us a photo of friends and family, ages 0 to 17, pets count, too, dressed in costume,” Hart said. “Selected photos will be shown on a televised and livestream virtual costume parade on Saturday, Oct. 31.”

Those interested should send their photo by Oct. 28 to news@countyofsb.org, along with the first name and age of those featured in photo, their residing city or town, the full name of a legal parent or guardian, and a permission statement authorizing the photo to be included on the county’s YouTube channel, website, and Facebook page broadcasts. Δ

—Malea Martin

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