In a further blow to our way of life, Covid-19 is now attacking our holidays too. The Illinois Department of Public Health is officially discouraging any Halloween gatherings this year in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. While there is no legal or executive order which has yet been issued, this news comes at a tough time for those in the state.
At the time of writing, the state has two thousand, two hundred and seventy-three new confirmed cases of the virus and thirty-five new deaths. Illinois in total has just shy of three hundred thousand cases since the beginning of the year.
This is tough news to bear, of course, yet it would be folly to assume that those in the Health Department are seeking to be killjoys. After all, these men and women are there for our safety.
A statement from Department Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike on their decision to discourage any Halloween gatherings reads:
“We are still in a pandemic, and unfortunately, this year, that means the safest way to celebrate is to stay home and plan virtual gatherings. That said, IDPH recognizes that some will choose to gather together anyway, and instead of denying that reality, we are issuing guidance and recommendations for safer ways to celebrate together in person.”
In their efforts to keep us safe, the IDPH provides some guidelines which have been recommended to anyone who is looking at getting involved in this year’s Halloween festivities.
– Haunted houses are not allowed under the state’s guidelines. However, haunted forests (one way) and haunted walks are allowed.
– Those passing out candy must wear a face mask and ensure a distance of six feet from the recipient; costume masks don’t count as a face mask.
– As an alternative to handing candy out, candy givers can leave individually wrapped candies on driveways or sidewalks on tables, spaced 6 feet apart.
– Only residents of the same households can trick or treat together.
– Hands must be washed before consuming candy.
At this time of the year, following over six months of new sanctions, lockdowns, and curfews, this seems like an extra step that we just don’t need. Nevertheless, it is still important that we do all that we can to keep the most vulnerable in our state safe. These extra measures for Halloween help to do just that.
It doesn’t appear that an executive order will be coming that might prevent Halloween gatherings altogether, and this advice seems to be the most that we can expect.
As we move into less draconian steps, it is important that everyone uses common sense so that everyone is ensured a great time this Halloween, and so that we can avoid going back to those measures.
Like many states around the country, Illinois’ reopening plan has been a tough one, and there have been setbacks along the way, complicated by astonishingly high rates of virus infections in neighboring states. Currently, Illinois is in Phase Four of its “Restore Illinois” plan.
Under the current phase, gatherings have been increased from ten in Phase Three to fifty people or fewer. This was the Governor speaking as Illinois moved to Phase Four:
“Over the last four months, Illinoisans have pulled together with the common mission of keeping each other safe. By staying home and practicing social distancing, the rate of new COVID-19 cases continues to drop and each region throughout the state is prepared to move to Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan.”
The final phase of this plan will be Phase Five. There are many officials, however, who have stated that they do not believe that the state will enter into this until the beginning of next year at the earliest.
This pandemic has of course been potentially harmful to our physical health. It is, however, absolutely essential that we take steps to overcome the challenges which it poses to our mental health. With this in mind, it is important that we all enjoy the Halloween holidays and that we keep ourselves and those around us safe.