City releases safe Halloween guidelines for trick-or-treaters

Pumpkin

Sam Rush/NW

Jesse Wiederhold

Halloween 2020 is creeping up on us fast, and like many other sociable holidays during a pandemic, there are key guidelines to be followed. Outlined graciously by the Marquette City Commission and in collaboration with surrounding cities, the idea is pretty simple. Social distancing and limits on gatherings will be the most observable change, but we spoke with Marquette Mayor Jenna Smith and City Commissioner Evan Bonsall for a bit of clarification. Here’s what they had to say.

“Halloween is still happening, trick-or-treating is still happening and gatherings of various kinds will still happen,” said Bonsall. He explained things will need to be “significantly different than the past this year. Bonsall explained that between different municipal township managers, they came together to form a set of guidelines that would work for everyone.

First of all, Bonsall said that “if you or someone in your residence has any symptoms of COVID-19, please stay home,” He also explained some of the new protocol. This involves a new idea he referred to as “one-way trick-or-treating.” Bonsall said that participating residents should keep their porch lights on to accept trick-or-treaters, and set out individually wrapped candies or goodie bags. 

This eliminates many people touching and/or reaching into a community bowl or candy dish. The recommended system can be set outside on a table as far as the end of their driveways, the edge of their yards or outside the house door. Of course, it is not a good idea to be handing out candy face-to-face right now. This allows for some to get creative with their one-way setups, too. Grab-and-go with social distancing is key.

The city says to only trick-or-treat with people from the same household. In addition to social distancing, it is important to wear a face mask. Costume masks do not count, and to be worn correctly a face mask must be worn covering the mouth and nose. As for social gatherings that are particularly relevant to college students, the idea is straightforward, said Bonsall. 

“The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has new guidelines out which are basically a continuation of Gov. Whitmer’s orders,” said Bonsall. “Gatherings are certainly allowed, but if people are having indoor gatherings at their residences,” added Bonsall, “limit those gatherings to ten people, and we’re asking people to wear a face mask while attending.”

As for outdoor gatherings, the limit is 100 people socially distanced and masked. “We need to have some of these common-sense limits and restrictions in place,” said Bonsall. “If everybody abides by them I’m sure they’ll be safe on Halloween as usual,” he concluded.

The reason for this surrounding area collaboration, Marquette Mayor Jenna Smith said, was to avoid people purposely traveling to enjoy Halloween elsewhere. “Say, for example, one community canceled Halloween or maybe had real strict guidelines and one didn’t,” Smith said. “It would be just as easy for one family to travel to another community and trick or treat,” she added. Of course, this could be an issue since unnecessary travel can lead to the spread of COVID-19.

The hours of Halloween this year will be 4-7 p.m. “We do that so everyone knows what to expect and so older kids trick-or-treating alone won’t be out alone in the darker hours,” Smith said. “Everything around here has to do with the mandates.” Smith also reminds us to keep your particles to yourself, and that wearing a mask isn’t just a Halloween mask. 

Additionally, for those not interested in participating in handing out candy or trick-or-treating, that’s fine.  “If you’re not interested, leave your porch light off, stay inside and watch a Halloween movie,” Smith added. “I know it can feel like it’s rude, but this year everyone just needs to have a better level of patience and understanding.”

Finally, the most important part is to take care and have some fun, however that looks for you. “Stay safe and have a happy Halloween, we’re in this together Marquette,” Smith concluded. For more information, check out the city’s meeting agenda from the last meeting where this was figured out. The most recent agenda is available at https://marquette.novusagenda.com/Agendapublic/ and specifically, the guidelines can be found on page 296 of the PDF.