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City of Jonesboro, State of Arkansas remind trick or treaters of COVID guidelines

City of Jonesboro

As Halloween approaches while the conoravirus pandemic swells in Northeast Arkansas, Mayor Harold Perrin, as well as other community leaders safeguarding our hometown, remind everyone to enjoy the Halloween tradition with a focus on safety.

Arkansas Department of Health guidance requires anyone who is sick or in quarantine to neither participate in festivities nor give out candy to trick-or-treaters on the Oct. 31 holiday.

“Halloween is a fun time, but we cannot forget the realities of COVID while we celebrate,” Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin said.

Among those realities is that traditional costume masks are likely not sufficient and should be replaced by a cloth mask, breathable fabric of two or more layers that covers both mouth and nose, and leaves no gaps around the face, according to ADH. Also, a costume mask over a protective cloth mask can be dangerous if it makes breathing difficult.

As for treaters, ADH recommends that parents limit the number of house their children visit, as every exposure is another opportunity to contract COVID. It also advises that children eat factory-wrapped candy only after it is cleaned with a sanitary wipe.

ADH lists low-risk activities, such as scavenger hunt-style trick or treating with household members and virtual costume contests. Jonesboro Medical Director Dr. Shane Speights suggested a “candy chute,” in which treat bearers cut a three- to six-inch piece of PVC pipe, then deliver candy to the guest through the tube.

“Anything that allows for social distancing while enjoying the holiday is a smart idea,” Speights said, adding that indoor parties and gatherings are a larger potential for super-spreader events than actually trick-or-treating.

“We’re still in a pandemic,” he said. “So the same guidance we have had for months still applies.”

Jonesboro Police Chief Rick Elliott said many might not feel comfortable participating in trick-or-treat this year and asked others to respect that decision.

“If a home does not have a porch light on, please don’t knock on their door,” Elliott said. “There are a lot of people with conditions, actually many with active COVID cases, who would prefer to not be exposed to other people at this time.”