Medical experts are encouraging families to consider new ways to celebrate Halloween amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“The traditional Halloween celebration of trick-or-treating and going door to door unfortunately carries risk of transmission of COVID-19,” says Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse, a Mayo Clinic pediatric infectious-diseases specialist. “This year, we are discouraging participating in any activities that significantly increase your risk of transmission or exposure to the infection.

“We are discouraging any door to door trick-or-treating, even trunk-or-treat type activities. Those are really difficult to maintain physical distancing and therefore they carry risk of transmission of infection,” says Rajapakse. “They also involve the exchange of objects or candy which can also contribute to transmission of infection, and we would encourage people not to take part in those types of activities this year.”

Along with discouraging trick-or-treating, Rajapakse says indoor Halloween parties also are not recommended because of the high risk of exposure or infection.

“We know that transmission of the virus occurs relatively easily, especially in indoor settings where people are in close contact with each other,” says Rajapakse.

These recommendations don’t mean you have to cancel Halloween. There are low-risk options to consider, says Rajapakse.

Consider these alternatives:

Carve pumpkins with members of your household.

Decorate your house, apartment or living space.

Have a virtual Halloween costume contest.

Have a Halloween movie night with your household members.

Have a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going door to door.

“Having activities outdoors instead of indoors is also another way to reduce the risk of transmission. But, unfortunately, there’s no way to reduce the risk to zero anytime you have people from different households interacting, especially given the amount of transmission we’re seeing in our communities still,” says Rajapakse.

If families participate in events with friends from different households, they should consider holding the event outdoors with plenty of open-air space and allow a safe distance of 6 feet apart.

Rajapakse encourages everyone to continue to follow social-distancing guidelines, wear a cloth mask while in public and wash hands with warm soap and water. “This holiday season is going to be like no other we have had before. We’re still in the midst of this pandemic. We are seeing rates of infection that are at their highest in some parts of the country than they have been, since we started all of this,” says Rajapakse.

For more information on COVID-19, go to the Mayo Clinic News Network and