Local residents are urged to plan for a safe and healthy Halloween.

Contrary to rumors suggesting otherwise, Halloween is NOT canceled this year.

San Bernardino County public health officials just want to make sure everyone “exercises an abundance of caution” when enjoying Halloween this Saturday, Oct. 31.

While some of the traditions normally associated with the holiday have been cancelled -- specifically indoor social gathering events such as haunted houses or harvest festivals -- there have been many creative approaches to celebrating. Outdoor corn mazes, drive-in movies, scary hay rides and even a haunted car wash are among the several unique opportunities being offered this year.

And of course, there is the tradition of trick-or-treating.

"What is absolutely critical for anyone celebrating Halloween this year is to practice the safety protocols we are all familiar with," county officials said in a news release.

To help residents understand what this means, the county has produced guidelines explaining how trick-or-treating can be enjoyed safely, while also suggesting a variety of safer alternatives.

First and foremost, public health officials ask for any at-risk residents to simply avoid Halloween activities this year. That means anyone feeling sick or who may have been exposed to the virus, along with those at highest risk of serious illness, such as people who are immune-compromised, have pre-existing conditions or are age 65 or older.

The county health guidelines include specific recommendations for parents planning to give out candy, or have their children go trick-or-treating:

• No home prepared treats; all candy should be individually packaged.

• Consider creative ways to safely dispense candy, such as setting up a table with individual items available for children to take.

• Move distribution away from a crowded porch or entryway.

• Allow families to approach a home individually without crowding.

• Do not approach a home that has its porch light turned off.

• Remember that a Halloween mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask, and may not provide enough protection.

The biggest fear this Halloween (and indeed the entire holiday season approaching), is to avoid unsafe gatherings of friends and family when someone might be carrying the virus but not showing any symptoms. Both San Bernardino and Riverside counties are in the most stringent tier of business closures because of a spike that began with the Labor Day holiday.

“We unfortunately have already seen how past holidays have led to noticeable increases in infection rates, so we are pleading with our county residents to be extremely cautious this holiday season,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Curt Hagman. “We are specifically urging residents to avoid many traditional activities and consider safer alternatives.”

----- IN FONTANA, officials said that some of the alternatives to Halloween might include a candy scavenger hunt at home, online pumpkin carving and costume contests, and car-based tours of Halloween displays.

The health guidance on Halloween also covers Día de los Muertos, a Mexican tradition celebrated in the Latinx community honoring the deceased. Día de los Muertos celebrations often include gatherings of extended family. Families are encouraged to place traditional indoor altars outside so others can view them from a safe distance and create virtual altars online.

“Unfortunately, Halloween is going to be celebrated a bit differently than it has in the past,” Fontana Police Sergeant David Lally said. “While skipping traditional trick-or-treating and indoor celebrations is recommended, please be safe if you are out and mindful of others who may drive by to look at decorations.”

It is important to keep traffic safety in mind and designate a non-drinking driver before going somewhere to drink, Lally said.

The Fontana P.D. offered these tips for drivers and those who are out walking:

• The days are getting shorter. Be visible and carry a flashlight or reflective vest if you are out at dusk or at night so drivers can see you.

• Stick to familiar, well-lit routes.

• Only cross the street at crosswalks or corners where it is safe. Always look left, right, then left again before crossing.

• If you are doing car-based tours of decorations, be extra alert for other vehicles backing out of driveways or leaving parking spaces.

• Watch for pedestrians and yield to them at all crosswalks.

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