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2020 Trick-or-Treating Guidelines

COVID-19 Trick or Treating Guidelines

October 27, 2020: Given the recent rise in cases in Lake and Cook Counties and the Lake County Health Department's recommendation that schools pivot to virtual learning, the City continues to discourage individuals from trick-or-treating. The City is not encouraging trick-or-treating because the CDC classifies trick-or-treating as a higher-risk activity. However, should you choose to participate, please read the below information carefully and follow the recommended precautions. The CDC provides suggested alternate activities, and the City has a list of local events and ideas at

The City of Highland Park encourages families to celebrate Halloween safely this year in light of ongoing health concerns due to COVID-19. With the proper precautions, everyone can enjoy a safe and spooky celebration - although the way we celebrate may look different this year. The City is not encouraging trick-or-treating because the CDC classifies trick-or-treating as a higher-risk activity. However, should you choose to participate, please read the below information carefully and follow the recommended precautions. The CDC provides suggested alternate activities, and the City has a list of local events and ideas at

On September 22, 2020, the CDC released guidelines for holiday activitiesThe CDC has determined that traditional, door-to-door trick-or-treating is a higher-risk activity. The CDC recommends that individuals and families avoid higher-risk activities as much as possible. While the City is not encouraging trick-or-treating, the list of guidelines below should be reviewed along with the CDC's recommendations before choosing to participate. The Illinois Department of Public Health has also issued guidelines in line with the guidance of the CDC.

Not all families will feel comfortable participating in trick-or-treating this year; teach children not to ring the doorbell if a light is not on and the Trick-or-Treating Flyer is not visible.
Participating in trick-or-treating is a personal choice for each family, and neighbors may choose differently from others based on their own comfort levels. All trick-or-treaters - young and the young at heart! - are encouraged to be respectful of their neighbors' decisions to participate in trick-or-treating or not. Should your family choose to trick-or-treat, please carefully review the guidelines below, and practice the 3Ws as you would for any outdoor activity. 

Children may trick or treat on Saturday, October 31, 2020, between the hours of 3:00 – 7:00 PM. While the City is not encouraging trick or treating due to the pandemic, the following guidelines will help promote a safe experience for families and individuals that choose to participate:

  • Do not participate in trick-or-treating if you are feeling unwell, if someone in your house is unwell, if you are awaiting COVID-19 test results, if you have recently returned from travel to a hotspot state, or if you know that you have been exposed to COVID-19.
  • Turn on your porch lamp or outdoor lights to show that your home is welcoming trick-or-treaters. 
  • Consider using a motion-activated noise maker to notify you when trick-or-treaters are at the door, such as a motion activated Halloween decoration, rather than having trick-or-treaters ring the doorbell, which can be a high touch-point.
  • Face coverings should be worn by all participants over the age of two, including individuals passing out treats. 
  • Avoid close contact with others by leaving candy on your porch – or even socially-distanced on your lawn (see below for a list of ideas)! Instead of manning the door, man the windows and wave at kids as they visit.
  • If you would prefer to answer the door to greet children individually, pass out candy instead of inviting children to take a treat from a communal bowl. Ask children to tell you their choice of a treat, rather than taking it themselves. 
  • If preparing goodie bags, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after preparing the bags.
  • Individuals should use hand sanitizer regularly throughout the trick or treat hours.
  • Do not trick-or-treat in groups with others; trick-or-treat as a household.
  • Maintain a safe distance from other trick-or-treating groups, and do not approach a house until the previous group has left.
  • Consider distributing treats other than candy, which parents can then sanitize before giving to kids: stickers in cellophane packaging, pencils, mini pumpkins, erasers, etc.
  • Please refrain from distributing coins or cash.
  • Please do not distribute homemade treats or fresh fruits.

Creative Ways to Distribute Treats

If you would like to avoid trick-or-treaters coming to your door, but would still like to participate, consider passing out treats using the following socially-distanced ideas:

  • Stay outside your home and host a “trunk or treat”.  Instead of inviting trick-or-treaters to come to your door, decorate your car and place candy in the open trunk for children to take. An adult should remain beside the vehicle at all times for safety reasons. Note: the CDC classes a "trunk or treat" event as a higher-risk activity. 
  • Create a grab-bag candy walk on your lawn: place candy inside recyclable paper lunch bags so each child can simply pick up a bag of treats.
  • Hang treats from a clothesline at children’s height.
  • Mark a safe distance from your door using chalk and ask children to stand behind the line before you open the door to pass out candy.

Halloween Face Coverings
Per the CDC, a Halloween costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask or face covering. A costume mask should not be used unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose and doesn't leave gaps around the face. 

The CDC does not recommend that individuals wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask, because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Instead, the CDC urges individuals to  wear a Halloween-themed cloth mask.