Tips from the Marion County Health Department for families choosing to trick-or-treat in 2020.

Health officials in Oregon would rather that families skip trick-or-treating this year.

But Katrina Rothenberger, Marion County’s public health division director, says she knows not everyone is going to listen.

While the Oregon Health Authority is telling families to stay home, Marion County’s health department is taking a harm reduction approach, Rothenberger said. That means sharing information about how to minimize the risk of transmitting Covid for families who still plan to trick-or-treat.

“We know that folks are still probably going to go out with their kids,” she said.

Much of the advice is common sense: Don’t go out or pass out candy if you’re sick. Wash or sanitize hands frequently. Avoid gathering on doorsteps and porches.

And wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth - a costume mask won’t protect against Covid, Oregon Health Authority says.

In a normal year, it’s common to see large groups of kids roaming Salem neighborhoods together in search of candy. Rothenberger said keeping groups small and not trick-or-treating with people from outside your household is important.

The goal, she said, is to avoid being within six feet of anyone outside your household.

People passing out candy can help by using tape or chalk to mark six-foot lines in their driveways so kids have plenty of space. The health department is also encouraging “one-way” trick-or-treating, where those handing out goodies prepackage them in bags and leave them on the porch. That lets kids can grab a bag and move on, rather than taking from a shared bowl.

Oregon Health Authority has suggested other alternatives to celebrate Halloween, including virtual costume contests and going all-out with spooky decorations around your home and yard.

Rothenberger said any contact with others always carries some risk of spreading Covid, but families can plan ahead and reduce their risk if they want to go out. She said the risk from being outside in costume is lower than many other activities people are taking part in, particularly indoor social gatherings where people from multiple households mix.

“I’m more worried about large family gatherings for the upcoming holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas rather than being outside with a small group for a limited amount of time,” she said.

Rothenberger said she plans to dress as a butterfly this year and trick-or-treat with her four-year-old daughter - just their family. She hasn’t yet picked out a mask to match her wings.

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Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.