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Covington council opts for no Halloween restrictions, again
Proposal to enforce CDC guidelines, limitations dies for lack of motion

COVINGTON, Ga. — Halloween will carry on as normal in Covington.

The Covington City Council, again, chose not to take action Monday, Oct. 5, and place restrictions on the holiday’s activities.

During its Sept. 21 meeting, the council initially voted not to enforce any regulations on Halloween activities by a count of 4-2 (councilwomen Susie Keck and Hawnethia Williams opposed). 

Hours after the Sept. 21 meeting, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a set of guidelines on how to safely celebrate Halloween, encouraging people not to participate in traditional trick-or-treating among other activities to avoid spreading COVID-19.

The CDC listed the following activities as “high-risk for spreading viruses”: 

  • Participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door to door.
  • 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 judgement 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.

“Moderate-risk” activities included:

  • Participating in one-way trick-or-treating where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go while continuing to social distance (such as at the end of a driveway or at the edge of a yard). The CDC recommends if preparing goodie bags, wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after preparing the bags.
  • Having a small group, outdoor, open-air costume parade where people are distanced more than 6 feet apart.
  • Attending a costume party held outdoors where protective masks are used and people can remain more than 6 feet apart. The CDC states “a costume mask (such as for Halloween) is not a substitute for a cloth mask. A costume mask should not be used unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around the face.” The CDC also recommends to “not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe.”
  • Going to an open-air, one-way, walk-through haunted forest where appropriate mask use is enforced, and people can remain more than 6 feet apart. If screaming will likely occur, the CDC advises greater distancing. “The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.”
  • Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, wearing masks is encouraged or enforced, and people are able to maintain social distancing.
  • Having an outdoor Halloween movie night with local family friends with people spaced at least 6 feet apart.

Low-risk activities included:

  • 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.

Mayor Steve Horton said Monday night he thought it was best to bring the guidelines to the council’s attention for re-discussion in case their views on the matter had changed.

Horton said several neighborhoods throughout the community had already opted not to participate in trick-or-treating and other festivities.

Councilman Don Floyd said he was in favor of not allowing any street closure permits, but he said he wasn’t in favor of restricting trick-or-treating.

“As far as saying we prohibit kids from going door to door trick-or-treating, there’s no way in the world I could agree with that,” Floyd said during the meeting.

Councilman Anthony Henderson also said he was not willing to support enforcement of regulations. He said it would be best for the city to share the CDC’s guidelines and allow people to make their own decision concerning trick-or-treating and other Halloween activities.

Horton then asked if there was a motion to the adopt CDC guidelines, but to no avail. The mayor’s question garnered only silence and died for a lack of motion.