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Communities need realistic Halloween guidelines with virus

At least there will be no shortage of masks. So goes one joke about Halloween 2020.

It will be upon us in just a few weeks. And, while it may not seem a priority to many in government at all levels, it needs to be addressed.

Halloween rivals Christmas in some ways in popularity among children. Each October, they delight in dressing up and ringing doorbells or knocking on doors, greeting people with, “Trick or treat!”

We adults — many of us, anyway — enjoy seeing them. Is that Joey from down the street behind that superhero mask? Is that Susie from school dressed up as Cinderella? Take another handful of candy, kids.

How do we explain to the children that this year is different — or that there will be no Halloween this time?

Officials in some local and state governments have begun thinking about the situation. For example, the Ohio Department of Health is recommending — not ordering, at least yet — that trick-or-treating should not be permitted this year. Obviously, activities such as hayrides and haunted houses should be avoided, the agency suggests.

At some point, localities will have to make decisions. Setting times and dates for trick-or-treating falls to them.

Our suggestion is this: Many parents will allow their children to go trick-or-treating, whether the activity is sanctioned or not. Count on it.

That may be taking a chance with COVID-19, but rest assured, it will happen. It will be up to individual households to decide whether their children dress up and hit the street. Our advice on that is to be very, very careful.

For many households, especially those including older people, answering the door on Halloween will not be a good idea. Perhaps setting a bowl of candy outside and watching the kids from a window is an option.

But local and state governments, recognizing that Halloween is going to happen, should release realistic guidelines on it, designed to keep everyone as safe as possible. The sooner that is done, the better.

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