By Jessica Mathews /

Halloween will definitely be different this year due to COVID-19 but state health officials have issued guidance on how to safely celebrate the holiday during the pandemic.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued guidance that provides tips for trick-or-treaters and parents along with homeowners who wish to hand out treats. Parents are encouraged to talk with children about safety and social distancing guidelines and expectations. Officials advise to keep a six-foot distance from others not in your group, avoid congregating in groups around homes, participate in one-way trick-or-treating and guide children to stay to the right to ensure social distancing. It was noted that a costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask.

Homeowners are being encouraged to consider handing out candy in an open space where distancing is possible, rather than from the front door, and use duct tape to mark six-foot lines in front of a home and leading to driveway or front door. Homeowners should also distribute candy on a disinfected table to eliminate direct contact.

The guidance also urges people to consider hosting virtual parties instead of in-person Halloween gatherings. If a gathering is hosted, officials remind it should be limited to 10 people or less per executive order, social distancing should be maintained, cloth masks should be worn and food and party favors should be set out individually to prevent cross contamination.

In addition to the state guidance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recently issued recommendations. The CDC considers trick-or-treating to be a high-risk activity and is offering alternative activities to consider as well as safety tips if parents and children choose to trick-or-treat.

The website also features different ways to celebrate based on levels of COVID risks in different areas. That link is provided. The press release regarding state guidance is attached. AP photo.