From the Township of South Orange (editor’s note: this story was first published on October 19, 2020):
With Halloween just around the corner, I, along with my colleagues on the Board of Trustees, would like to issue some general guidance after speaking with our Health Officer, Office of Emergency Management, and listening to feedback from the community on how we can make Halloween enjoyable and safe at the same time.
First, knowledge is power. As of today, October 19 at noon, South Orange has 143 positive test cases and 4,242 negative test cases. This means since October 1, we have recorded 21 positive test cases and even more concerning is that last week, we recorded 5 teenagers who tested positive. Our Health Department continues to partner with our local schools to ensure families are being reminded on a consistent basis the importance of taking the proper public health precautions including but not limited to: face coverings, social distancing and hand hygiene. At this time, Seton Hall has reported 10 positive test cases on campus since fall reopening.
Second, the Village strongly urges that families consider “fun alternatives” this year to minimize risk of exposure. From pumpkin decorating to coordinating with close neighbors/friends, there are so many ways we can make this fun for our kids. The Village has two activities we’d love for you to consider:
- The South Orange Village Center Alliance is hosting a virtual costume contest & photo op for the entire family. From Oct. 29 to Nov. 1, Spiotta Park will be decorated for the holiday, providing a festive and fun backdrop for family photos. Post your photos on Instagram or Facebook, follow @SoVillageCenter & tag #SpookySpiotta. The most creative photos posted by Midnight on Nov. 1 will win gift cards to South Orange businesses!
- Join us on Floods Hill at 6:30 pm on Halloween for an outdoor movie featuring Hocus Pocus! Stop by a local restaurant and grab some food, bring your blankets, chairs, face coverings and remember to maintain social distance from other families. We’ll have ambassadors out and some goodies for the kids. There will be no group activities but it’ll be fun to sit outside and enjoy a Halloween movie.
Lastly, as it relates to “Trick-Or-Treating”, we are going to trust our community to be safe if you believe this is right for you and your family. The best way to “minimize risk” is as follows:
- FACE COVERINGS – You will need to wear a face covering to help mitigate COVID-19 – so why not make it fun! Have your child select their own face covering and then decorate it together to match the costume. Costume masks are not an acceptable substitute but can be supplemented with a cloth or disposable mask. Children under two should not wear a cloth mask.
- SOCIAL DISTANCING – When out trick-or-treating, travel only with your household members, consider staying local, and limit the number of houses on your route. Social distancing should be practiced between all who are not in the same household, and make interactions brief.
- HYGIENE – Keep from transferring the virus by washing hands often, using hand sanitizer and waiting until your hands are clean before digging into the candy, and again before eating the candy. Also, don’t touch your face, or share costume props or food. Be sure to clean/disinfect high-touch surfaces. And, of course, if you feel sick or could be contagious, you must stay home and away from others.
FOR THOSE PUTTING OUT TREATS
BE READY FOR TRICK-OR-TREATERS – In an outdoor area such as a porch or driveway: set up a table to hand out candy using candy-grabber or tongs; make treat bags and hang them from streamers outside; or place a bowl of candy and bottle of hand sanitizer at the end of the driveway/walkway. Always wear a face covering around others and practice hand hygiene.
- Good option: Limit interaction or contact with trick-or-treaters, wear a mask when individuals come to the door, and regularly wash hands.
- Better option: Leave a treat bowl on a porch or table or in a place where it may be easily accessed while adhering to social distancing requirements.
- Best option: Arrange individually packaged candy so that trick or treaters can grab and go without accessing a shared bowl.
For those who do not wish to have trick-or-treaters visit your homes, please keep your porch lights off. For your convenience, a flyer has been included in our Halloween Guidance packet that you can print and post on your front door.
We will continue to monitor our local numbers and update the community if any changes are made to this guidance.
Please be safe and Happy Halloween.