With leaves starting to fall around Connecticut, state health officials are reminding residents throwing a large Halloween party could result in a stiff fine — even as Gov. Ned Lamont has said the annual tradition should go forward.
Under the state’s coronavirus restrictions, holding an indoor party with more than 25 people or an outdoor party with more than 150 attendees can cost the host a $500 fine.
Just showing up can result in a $250 fine for guests.
That’s part of the guidance the state Department of Public Health included on its list of things to avoid this Halloween season.
Other haunted traditions the agency recommends avoiding this year: indoor haunted houses “where people may be crowded together and screaming,” hayrides with people from different households, and trick-or-treating where candy is handed out door-to-door or from car trunks.
Instead, the agency and federal Centers for Disease Control say families should stick to household festivities like a family movie night or dressing up the front lawn with decorations.
That guidance comes as Lamont has expressed optimism about trick-or-treating this year after consulting with state Department of Social Services Commissioner Deidre Gifford.
“I was talking to Deidre Gifford and I told her, ‘Halloween is outside and people are wearing masks, so it sounds like it ought to be doable,’” Lamont said last month.
The CDC has since clarified that a costume mask “is not a substitute for a cloth mask,” and should only be worn if it’s comprised of two layers of cloth.
The federal agency also advises against wearing a rubber costume mask over a protective cloth mask “because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe.”
On Thursday, Lamont and Gifford said the guidance is intended to give families a way to celebrate the holiday safely.
“We’re not standing in the way, we’re just giving you clear guidance on how to do that safely,” Lamont said.
For people with preexisting conditions or who don’t feel comfortable with others coming to their doors, “you can probably skip this holiday and keep the door closed,” the governor said.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has also said he won’t ban door-to-door trick-or-treating, but at the same time, indicated he wouldn’t encourage parents to do it.
So what’s left on the slab for Halloween 2020?
Some “moderate risk” activities the CDC proposes include outdoor haunted forest attractions where visitors walk one-way. Masks should be worn and visitors spaced out — especially if screaming is expected.
Pick-your-own pumpkin patches and orchards are also on the moderate risk list, provided those doing the picking use hand sanitizer before they handle the pumpkins or apples.
An outdoor movie night with local friends and family is also listed as a moderate risk. Just space everyone out in case of screaming.