Officials urge caution this Halloween

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By Andreas Yilma, Staff Writer

Health officials have deemed traditional trick-or-treating a high-risk activity amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but local municipal leaders have no intentions of prohibiting young ghouls and goblins from gathering their bounty of candy this Halloween.

“Halloween is going ahead in Naugatuck,” Naugatuck Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said. “We’re asking people to follow the CDC guidelines and the recommendations from the state of Connecticut.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state Department of Public Health recently issued guidelines for celebrating Halloween, which is Saturday.

Health officials are advising the public to avoid large Halloween parties that exceed 25 people indoors or 150 people outdoors, as well as hayrides with people they don’t live with and indoor haunted houses.

The nature of traditional trick-or-treating makes it a high-risk activity for transmitting coronavirus, according to health officials. Instead, officials suggest one way trick-or-treating where bags of candy or a large bowl of candy are left outside for trick-or-treaters.

Beacon Falls First Selectman Gerard Smith and Prospect Mayor Robert Chatfield echoed Hess’ sentiments about following health guidelines and urged caution on Halloween.

“We’re going to follow state guidelines,” Chatfield said.

For those who decide to hand out candy, health officials recommend that they wear a face covering, stay 6 feet away from trick-or-treaters, and place candy in children’s bags. Parents should also limit the number of houses their children trick-or-treat at, officials said.

Health officials recommended that children don’t wear a surgical mask as well as a costume mask if they plan to cover their face as part of their Halloween outfit.

Some are taking a different approach to trick-or-treating this year.

In Prospect, Chatfield said members of the fire and police departments are planning to drive around town in firetrucks and cruisers and hand out candy to children they see out and about.

In Naugatuck, resident Dawn Marchant has a created an interactive map on the Facebook group page “WHIN – What’s Happening in Naugatuck” of some of the homes that plan to hand out candy. As of last week, the map included 182 residences, mostly on Millville Avenue and in the surrounding neighborhoods. People who want to see the map or register their homes via a Google form can visit the Facebook page for information.

“I discussed creating an interactive map with the other administrators of the group and we all agreed it was a good idea, the younger kids need some sort of normalcy and fun throughout all this COVID chaos,” Marchant said.