A New Jersey pharmacist has found a safe way to ensure that Halloween celebrations go on despite the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. 

Halloween usually means candy, costume parties, and trick-or-treating. However, the COVID-19 pandemic is throwing that into question this spooky season. The CDC has recommended against traditional trick-or-treating this year out of safety concerns. During traditional Halloween activities, direct contact with the trick-or-treaters should be avoided and treats should be given outdoors if possible. 

Colleen Calish, the pharmacy department manager at Shaker ShopRite in Hazlet, New Jersey, has found a unique way of keeping Halloween safe. After seeing similar constructions on the internet, she constructed a candy slide made out of PVC pipe, gauze, rope, and glue-on spiders, which cost approximately $15 to make. 

The slide sits on a downward angle attached to her outside stair railing. A trick-or-treater stands at the bottom and Calish then drops a candy bar (full sized, of course) down the shoot, where gravity does the rest. 

“You can do whatever you want with it. I’ve seen people decorate them all kinds of crazy different ways, like, Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory rainbow kind of things, and I saw somebody put lights on theirs. You can do whatever you want with this…I wanted it to be fun as well as safe,” Calish said. 

It’s important to make sure the slide is wide enough, or the candy won’t make it to the bottom. According to Calish, wider candy bars, such as full-size Kit-Kats, don’t work as well. She may just set those up at the bottom for kids to take if they prefer a Kit-Kat.

Candy slides aren’t the only thing you can do to keep your holiday safe this year. The CDC recommends incorporating your cloth mask as part of your costume. 

A costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth one and people should never wear a costume mask over a cloth one, which can make breathing more difficult. Masks should not be worn by anyone under the age of 2 years or anyone with breathing difficulties. 

According to the CDC, those passing out candy should also wash their hands beforehand and trick-or-treaters should wash their hands after returning home and before any candy is eaten. 

According to Calish, it’s important to keep in mind that COVID-19 is a respiratory disease so there is no need to go crazy wiping down candy. However, wearing a mask and practicing proper hygiene is essential to having a safe holiday.  

“The real thing is that people have to remember that this is a respiratory virus. You’re much more likely to get it from close contact conversations than you are to get it from surfaces,” Calish said. “So, I think people need to not be so crazy about wiping down the candy bags when they get home from trick-or-treating and worry more about their mask properly covering their mouth and their nose, and that it’s on the whole time. And that they’re washing their hands after handling their mask.” 

Reference:
Trick or Treating and Other Halloween Activities. October 9, 2020; CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays/halloween.html. Accessed October 28, 2020.