Los Angeles Officials Revise Ban on Halloween Activities

September 10, 2020 Updated: September 10, 2020

Los Angeles County officials revised a ban on trick-or-treating and other Halloween activities after widespread backlash.

Public health officials said in guidelines for Oct. 31 that both trick-or-treating and “trunk-or-treating” were banned, citing difficulty maintaining social distance, or 6 feet between non-household members, during the activities.

Trick-or-treating involves going door-to-door for candy while trunk-or-treating involves a group of parents driving to a parking lot to hand out candy from trunks in a controlled simulation of trick or treating.

The decision sparked backlash from some.

“Los Angeles, you have officially lost your [expletive] mind,” Justine Bateman, a writer and producer, wrote on Twitter.

But others said they supported it.

“I don’t think there is any good alternative at this point, short of buying your own kids candy and just staying home, unfortunately,” James Lamb, a parent, told the Los Angeles Times.

On Wednesday, officials walked back the ban, moving trick-or-treating from “not permitted” to “not recommended.”

“Door-to-door trick-or-treating is not recommended because it can be very difficult to maintain proper social distancing on porches and at front doors, ensure that everyone answering or coming to the door is appropriately masked to prevent disease spread, and because sharing food is risky,” the guidance states (pdf).

Eric Garcetti, Hilda Solis, Alex Villanueva, Barbara Ferrer, Kathryn Barger
Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, at podium, speaks at a news conference with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (L) in Los Angeles on March 12, 2020. (Damian Dovarganes/AP Photo)

Trunk-or-treating is also not recommended.

“Our guidelines have been slightly revised, so we’d ask that people go back and look at them,” Barbara Ferrer, the county public health director, told reporters during a virtual press conference.

“Trick-or-treating, we’re highly recommending that it not happen. We don’t think that it’s an appropriate activity during the pandemic.”

Ferrer said that there’s no guarantee that strangers who open doors to give our candy would be wearing face coverings. She also said the people may be sick, making the candy they’re passing out unsafe.

Gatherings, events, or parties are banned, even if they’re conducted outdoors, as are carnivals, festivals, live entertainment, and haunted houses, according to the updated guidance.

Los Angeles County has a population of about 10 million and sits in Southern California. County and city officials have repeatedly imposed restrictions among the harshest in the nation amid the COVID-19 pandemic, including shutting off utilities to properties where people flout local guidelines, and canceling the lease of a church that was allowed by a judge to continue holding services.

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