Massachusetts residents are no stranger to having Halloween canceled – after all, the 2011 snowstorm had many local towns and communities postpone or cancel any spooky celebrations. But Halloween during a pandemic is unprecedented. Governor Charlie Baker refused to cancel the holiday outright, citing fears of increasing the number of indoor Halloween gatherings and left it up to towns to decide for themselves.
Governor Baker did, however, give some advice on how he thinks the holiday should be celebrated. Baker encouraged social distancing guidelines by promoting the advice of public health experts, who advised going outdoor trick-or-treating in small groups.
However, many local towns have decided not to allow door-to-door trick-or-treating. The cities of Lowell, Springfield, and Worcester — three of the most populous towns in Massachusetts — have explicitly banned this kind of celebration. These towns have seen recent rises in Covid-19 cases, especially as the state experiences another spike. Instead, towns like Lowell are encouraging residents to participate in safe activities such as pumpkin carving, having a Halloween movie night, or attending a virtual Halloween celebration.
Some towns, such as Lexington, have left it up to the residents to decide for themselves whether they want to participate in trick-or-treating. These towns have strongly encouraged holiday go-ers to wear masks, social distance from other groups, and to wash their hands as often as possible. In addition, they recommend safer ways of distributing candy such as leaving it outside of homes instead of handing them directly to children.
Other Massachusetts towns have not released guidance on Halloween celebrations but are expected to do so closer to the holiday.