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North Texas health officials release COVID-19 Halloween guidelines

If people choose to celebrate the holiday, they are advised to practice social distancing, wear face masks, and limit activities to their household members.

Dallas County health officials released their official guidance Thursday for Halloween-related activities. Tarrant County also released its recommendations last week. 

Dallas County's recommendations come one day after Gov. Greg Abbott announced that beginning Oct. 14 county judges can opt-in to allow bars to reopen at 50% capacity. 

However, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said he has no plans to reopen bars. County health officials also said going to bars is part of the "unsafe" categories for Halloween. 

Dallas county health officials said gatherings, events, or parties with non-household members are not recommended during Halloween. "Remember, the fewer people you interact with, the more you limit your exposure," the guidance states. 

Both counties recommend residents stay home during the holiday if they are not feeling well. If people choose to go out, they are advised to practice social distancing, wear face masks, and limit activities to their household members only.

RELATED: CDC issues Halloween guidance, discourages traditional trick-or-treating

Below is a breakdown of other Halloween activities recommendations: 

Door-to-door trick or treating

Dallas County health officials do not recommend trick-or-treating because it's difficult for people to social distance on porches and in front yards. They also said reaching into the same candy bowl and passing out candy by hand is risky. 

Tarrant County health officials are advising residents to take the following safety precautions if they participate in trick-or-treating:

  • Place treats on porch steps or on a table in the driveway with a sign asking children to take only one candy. They also recommend distributing treats by hanging them from a wall or fence. 
  • During trick-or-treating, parents should limit the number of houses they visit and instruct their children to stay six feet apart from treat-givers. Parents should consider holding bags for small children.
  • Carry hand sanitizer and use it regularly.
  • Children should not be allowed to select their own treats from a bowl/common container unless there is a hand-sanitizing station setup.
  • Wipe off candy wrappers with sanitizing wipes when you arrive home.
  • Allow children to eat only factory-wrapped treats. Avoid homemade treats. 

Trunk or Treat events

Truck or treat events usually consist of children going from car to car to receive Halloween treats. Like traditional trick-or-treating, Dallas County health officials do not recommend this activity because social distancing is difficult and there could be contamination with candy bowls.

RELATED: COVID-19 experts concerned pandemic-fatigued Americans could be hit with a second wave during holiday season

Instead of participating in the traditional Halloween activities, health officials from Dallas and Tarrant Counties are recommending these alternatives: 

  • Online costume parties and pumpkin carving contests.
  • Car parades where people in vehicles should live within the same household.
  • Halloween movie nights at home or going to a drive-in theater.
  • Halloween-themed meals at home or outdoor seating at restaurants.
  • Decorating homes and yards with Halloween-themed items. 
  • Scavenger hunt-style candy searches around yards or inside the home with family members. 
  •  Drive through haunted a garage or themed event.
  • Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards. 

Carnivals, festivals, live entertainment, and haunted house attractions

Dallas County health officials said although these activities could take place outside, they require close contact between people and are not recommended at this time. Any outdoor activities should have less than 10 people and should maintain social distancing. 

Health officials for Dallas and Tarrant Counties also said costume masks are not sufficient protection for COVID-19, and people should continue to follow CDC guidelines regarding facial coverings.   

Tarrant County Health officials said if residents choose to host a celebration, it should take place outside if possible. They said indoor activities pose a higher risk for coronavirus. If one is held, hosts should open windows and doors to increase ventilation, and that guests should wear masks and social distance.

Click here to view a full list of recommendations from Dallas and Tarrant Counties.