City of Tomahawk will not set official trick-or-treating hours; health agencies do not recommend participation
By Jalen Maki
Tomahawk Leader Editor
TOMAHAWK – The City of Tomahawk will not set official trick-or-treating hours on Halloween (Saturday, Oct. 31), and local, state, and federal health agencies say they do not recommend participation in the activity as the number of COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin continues to climb.
However, those who wish to take part in the Halloween tradition in city limits may still do so.
A motion to designate trick-or-treating hours in Tomahawk died on the floor after not receiving a second during the City of Tomahawk Health and Safety Committee meeting earlier this month. No further action was taken by the committee or the City of Tomahawk Common Council.
Mayor Steve Taskay noted during the public comment period at the Common Council’s Oct. 6 meeting that he will leave his light on, a common practice to signify that a household is taking part in the Halloween tradition.
Ultimately, participation in trick-or-treating this year in Tomahawk comes down to personal choice.
The City of Tomahawk Police Chief in previous years would set a certain time frame in which trick-or-treating would occur, usually without action being taken by committees or the Common Council.
Health officials: Trick-or-treating, mass gatherings, large events not recommended this Halloween
The Lincoln County Health Department (LCHD) and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) are not recommending trick-or-treating, large events or mass gatherings this Halloween, citing the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the recent surge in the number of cases in north central Wisconsin.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) classifies “traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door to door” as a “higher risk” activity. Other activities given this designation include:
- Having trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots
- Attending crowded costume parties held indoors
- Going to an indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming
- Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household
- Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgment and increase risky behaviors
- Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19
LCHD recommends those who still choose to participate in Halloween festivities take the following steps:
- Stay home if sick. Do not hand out treats, trick-or-treat, or go to events when sick.
- Celebrate Halloween with people you live with, including trick-or-treating.
- Practice physical distancing. Remain six feet apart from people not in your household.
- Wear a face mask that covers both your mouth and nose when appropriate.
- Homeowners: Distribute treats by placing them in a bucket or on a table on the front porch instead of handing them out. Avoid in-person contact.
- Have hand sanitizer available and use before eating or after coughing/sneezing.
- If you attend a large Halloween gathering or event, self-quarantine and monitor for symptoms 14 days after attendance. Avoid public interaction with high risk groups during the 14 days following attendance.
Other Halloween activities
The CDC classified numerous Halloween activities as “lower risk,” including:
- Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household and displaying them
- Carving or decorating pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends
- Decorating your house, apartment, or living space
- Doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house, admiring Halloween decorations at a distance
- Having a virtual Halloween costume contest
- Having a Halloween movie night with people you live with
- Having a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going house to house
To learn more about different Halloween activities and their risk levels of spreading COVID-19, visit the CDC website at https://bit.ly/33eEFuM.