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‘We are not canceling Halloween’: Harford officials won’t discouraging trick-or-treating, but ask residents to be safe

The Harford County Health Department issued several graphics encouraging steps residents can take to celebrate Halloween safely in light of COVID-19.
The Harford County Health Department issued several graphics encouraging steps residents can take to celebrate Halloween safely in light of COVID-19. (Courtesy Harford County Health Department)

“We are not canceling Halloween,” Bel Air Mayor Amy Chmielewski declared this week, but it might look a little bit different throughout Harford County this year.

Some communities in Maryland are strongly discouraging trick-or-treating this Halloween. The Howard County health department, for example, issued guidelines discouraging door-to-door trick-or-treating.

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Harford’s Health Department isn’t going that far, but instead issued messaging that acknowledges door-to-door trick-or-treating is considered a higher-risk activity, but it could still be done by placing a table with prepared treat bags and hand sanitizer at the end of a home’s driveway, for example.

“COVID is still happening, but it’s because of the residents of Harford County that are numbers are lower than a lot of other counties in the state of Maryland,” Molly Mraz, a spokesperson for the Harford Health Department said. “If they keep doing what they’re doing, social distancing, wearing masks and using caution while participating in Halloween activities, we can still continue to slow the spread of COVID."

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The Health Department also discourages wearing costume masks with holes in them, instead saying to continuing to wear face coverings that cover both the mouth and nose, and to stay six feet apart. Mraz also encouraged parents to have hand sanitizer and that children use it between each house or activity.

Cindy Mumby, a spokesperson for Harford County government, said the county “is just asking folks to continue following safety precautions.”

The Town of Bel Air, in a statement, said Halloween can be celebrated safely if the community follows recommendations from the CDC and Health Department guidelines. The town encouraged families that do not wish to participate in door-to-door trick-or-treating to turn off their front lights.

Those who are trick-or-treating should be mindful of gathering in groups and to be respectful of those that do not wish to participate.

“We want everyone to be safe and make the choice that’s right for their family, if everyone works together in the spirit of staying safe, we can celebrate this Halloween,” Bel Air’s Mayor Chmielewski said in a statement. “Our kids need this.”

The Bel Air Downtown Alliance’s annual trick-or-treat event on Main Street will continue as planned from 1 to 3 p.m. Oct. 24.

Adam Rybczynski, legislative liaison and marketing strategist for the City of Havre de Grace, noted that Halloween isn’t a city-sponsored event, and simple encouraged residents who do not wish to participate in trick-or-treating to turn their front light off. The city does expect any participants to follow all CDC and Department of Health guidelines, however.

Messages left with officials from the City of Aberdeen regarding Halloween activities and trick-or-treating this year were not immediately returned Thursday.

Ultimately, Mraz said, it comes down to people’s comfort levels.

“If you don’t feel safe trick-or-tricking, just avoid it or any Halloween activities you don’t feel comfortable participating in,” Mraz said. “If you feel comfortable, feel free to participate, just use caution.”

Baltimore Sun reporter Christine Condon contributed to this article.

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