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OUR VIEW: Consider COVID-19 safety on Halloween

Every year around this time, our phones start ringing and our Facebook page starts receiving messages with the same question — when is the city doing Halloween?

Our answer is always the same, as is the city of LaGrange’s: The city doesn’t dictate when people go trick-or-treating, but they encourage a certain timeframe (before darkness) and safety while doing so.

This year the question being asked is a little bit different, and we’ve been seeing it for cities surrounding Troup County too. Many are asked whether trick-or-treating has been canceled entirely due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

We understand why people are asking this question.

After a pandemic where a shelter-in-place order was signed, it’s fair to ask if the city or state government have issued some type of regulation against a holiday where strangers go door to door and ask for free candy.

However, the answer from the city is essentially the same as past years. The city does not decide whether people trick-or-treat, and they are asking people to be extremely safe if they decide to do so.

Mayor Jim Thornton has used the phrase personality responsibility over and over when discussing COVID-19, and we’ve echoed that thought in this space numerous times. This again comes down to personal responsibility.

As a parent, if you feel your children can safely trick-or-treat, then by all means feel free to do so. We’d recommend taking cleaning wipes or hand sanitizer with you, just to wipe down after every few houses. (Or even better — every house.)

When you consider that dozens of children might stick their hands in the same bucket of candy, it’s fairly easy to see how someone could pick up COVID-19 on that night. Plus, it’s not like children are thinking of social distancing when free candy is involved. If you’re uneasy about trick-or-treating, we recommend finding another way to celebrate the holiday. Maybe an Easter-style “candy hunt” in the backyard would be more appropriate this year. Or maybe you limit trick-or-treating just to family that you see regularly.

Remember, even if you aren’t worried about getting extremely sick from COVID-19, the ramifications go further than that. If someone gets sick in your family, you’ll need to quarantine for 14 days, meaning missed work and school. That can be tough on families and employers, so keep that in mind. We recommend talking it over with the entire family to make a plan now, before the holiday gets here. Explain the situation to your kids and make sure they know of the safety precautions they need to take if you do let them go trick-or-treating.

So, to answer the question: Is Halloween canceled? That’s entirely up to you.