Three northern Mass. towns partner together on Halloween guidelines for families

Three northern Mass. towns partner together on Halloween guidelines for families

NEWBURYPORT, Mass. — While some high-risk communities are prohibiting trick-or-treating this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Halloween is still on in some Massachusetts towns. In Newburyport, the city is partnering with neighboring communities and rolling out guidelines for families who choose to partake.

“We really felt that people would be trick-or-treating regardless,” said Newburyport Mayor Donna Holaday.

Holaday said that the city was coordinating with Amesbury and Salisbury to create unified guidance.

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“We could at least come out with some guidelines and make sure that we’re all doing the same thing at the same time, to reduce the number of trick-or-treaters coming from other communities, because that’s been a problem in the past,” she said.

Trick-or-treating will be permitted in the three communities on Halloween night, between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30pm. People participating must wear masks and are asked to keep their six-foot distance.

Holaday said there is an emphasis on people avoiding communal candy bowls and suggested instead that people put out individually wrapped goodie bags for more of a grab-and-go style.

On Tuesday, parents agreed that the idea was a good one.

“If there can be something put into an individualized bag or something for each to kid to grab at a doorstep, I think that could be a safe way of doing it,” said parent Alethea McCormick. “I think as a parent, it’s that juggle in life we’re having right now. The balance between the mental health of the children as well as the overall physical health and their safety,” she said.

“I would say I’m mixed about trick-or-treating this year, it concerns me having a lot of different hands in a candy basket and my kids going door to door,” said parent Lindsay Batastini. “I wouldn’t be too disappointed if there was less candy in our house too that night.”

Mayor of Amesbury, Kassandra Gove, gave Boston 25 News the following statement:

"We all know this has been such a hard year for so many of our families, and a lot of our favorite community events have had to be cancelled due to COVID-19. As we started thinking about Halloween in Amesbury, the conversation was always about how to move forward with Trick-or-Treat while also keeping everyone as safe as possible.

Trick-or-Treat touches every corner and neighborhood of our community and is truly run by the people who opt into participating, which means we had to carefully consider what guidance was best on how to stay safe and healthy. It’s my hope that everyone takes the safety precautions seriously to limit the spread of the Coronavirus. It’s up to them to make the best decisions for themselves and their families to stay healthy.

With the guidance from the CDC and from the Commonwealth, my team created a flyer (attached) to share some high-level recommendations about how to participate in Trick-or-Treat safely. We really wanted to make sure we were clear about that guidance, and the fact that traditional Trick-or-Treating really isn’t recommended this year. We’re encouraging everyone to modify their activities to keep physically distanced, avoid reaching into that communal candy bowl and stay within their neighborhoods.

We’ve had a really positive response about Trick-or-Treat since we announced it last week. Everyone is really happy to be able to have their kids experience just a little bit of normalcy and have something to be excited about. That was really important to me. All of our communities have been through so much, so it’s nice to see people looking forward to this community-wide event."

The cities are also pushing out the following list of Halloween activities, based on risk level:

Low Risk

  • Carving pumpkins
  • Decorating your house or apartment
  • Physically distant Halloween scavenger hunt
  • Halloween movie night with your household
  • Virtual costume contest

Moderate Risk

  • Trick-or-treat in the yard or driveway (set up individually wrapped goodie bags outdoors for easy grab and go)
  • Small group, outdoor costume parade
  • Physically distant outdoor costume party
  • Visit a pumpkin patch/orchard, wear a mask and stay physically distanced from other groups

High Risk

  • Traditional trick-or-treat, knocking on doors and reaching into a communal bowl of candy
  • Indoor costume/Halloween parties
  • Walking through an indoor haunted house
  • Group hayrides/tractor rides
(Town of Amesbury/Town of Amesbury)

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