With Los Angeles County seeing an uptick in the number of coronavirus infections, health officials on Saturday warned against Halloween gatherings that could fuel another virus surge.
“The scariest thing residents can do tonight for Halloween is gather with others outside of your household to celebrate,” the L.A. County Department of Public Health officials said.
All major Halloween festivities in Southern California were canceled — carnivals, parties, festivals, live entertainment and haunted house attractions are all not allowed in L.A. County.
And in West Hollywood, where the annual Halloween Carnaval was canceled, officials said they won’t hesitate to issue a curfew or citations if crowds show up.
“The stakes are high since our case numbers have already been steadily increasing for the past 2 weeks; we can’t really afford to repeat what we went through after the July 4th holiday when we saw surges in cases followed by alarming increases in hospitalizations and deaths,” county health director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement.
Holiday gatherings in L.A. County —like during Memorial Day and Fourth of July— have brought on coronavirus spikes that forced officials to roll back business reopenings in the summer as they grappled for weeks with increased COVID-19 hospitalizations.
“Decisions we each make tonight could haunt us and the county for many weeks,” Ferrer said. “It’s not just about who might get infected on Halloween as a result of an ill-advised party, but also about the people that will come in contact with that person in the days to follow.”
Health officials said that since trick-or-treating is not recommend, residents can instead celebrate Halloween with a drive-in event, walks to see decorated houses, at-home scavenger hunts for treats or virtual parties.
The county allows residents to gather with up to two other households— but only outdoors and with masks on and 6 feet of distancing.
The virus remains widespread in the county. As of Saturday, 307,618 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in L.A. County and 7,071 have died of COVID-19.
“The traditional ways to celebrate Halloween are simply too risky this year and are not safe while we have widespread community transmission in our county,” Ferrer said. “We must continue to work together to limit transmission and slow the spread of COVID-19; doing so will save lives.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has ranked Halloween activities based on the risk they pose of spreading the coronavirus.