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Halloween to continue in Northfield, with safety guidelines

  • Children trick-or-treating. The Northfield Selectboard has approved trick-or-treating in town, and guidelines for COVID-19 conscious trick-or-treating have been released following a discussion around the safety of Halloween festivities amid the lasting pandemic. STAFF FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 10/1/2020 1:53:42 PM

NORTHFIELD — The Selectboard has approved trick-or-treating in town, and guidelines for COVID-19 conscious trick-or-treating have been released following a discussion around the safety of Halloween festivities amid the lasting pandemic.

Speaking to the Selectboard Monday night, Town Administrator Andrea Llamas said Police Chief Robert Leighton recently inquired about Halloween so he could plan for scheduling officers. Llamas said she also spoke with members of the Dickinson Memorial Library board of trustees, the Northfield Elementary School Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) and the Board of Health who were curious about what to expect as Oct. 31 approaches.

According to Llamas, the Rag Shag Parade, which is usually organized by Northfield Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9874, will not be held.

“Some communities have ‘canceled’ Halloween,” Llamas said.

What that means, she said, is the prohibition of trick-or-treating in a particular town, which Selectboard Chair Alex Meisner and fellow board members agreed they did not want to do in Northfield. Noting that there are ways to practice social distancing while trick-or-treating, Meisner said he has seen videos of people crafting tube systems that slide candy from their front door to children on the sidewalk. Selectboard member Heath Cummings proposed residents create “grab bags” to avoid reaching into a shared bowl of candy.

Some people, Llamas said, might not want trick-or-treaters coming to their doors, particularly if they are immunocompromised and more susceptible to contracting the virus. Selectboard members encouraged residents who do not wish to participate in Halloween to signal this by turning off their lights or leaving their doors closed.

“It seems like somewhat of a safe activity, given also what we have for data going on in Franklin County right now,” Cummings said. “If we were a COVID hotspot, totally rethink everything, but our (case) numbers are low. They’ve been consistently low.”

Cummings said he’ll let his own child participate in Halloween, with certain personal guidelines, such as sanitizing the candy wrappers upon arriving home. He agreed that a parade would be inadvisable, but feels trick-or-treating would be appropriate.

“I think people who live along Main Street or the side streets who typically have trick-or-treaters can make the decision to turn their lights off,” Cummings said. “And people who don’t think they want their kids participating in Halloween, they don’t have to let their kids participate in Halloween.”

The Northfield Police Department and the town have shared “Rules For a Fun and Safe Halloween.” According to the guidelines, anyone feels unwell, who may have COVID-19 or may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 should not participate in in-person Halloween festivities and should not give out candy to trick-or-treaters.

The Selectboard and Police Department urge residents to adhere to the following rules:

■Only approach homes/businesses that have lights on or that have a person visibly dispensing candy.

■Candy should be dispensed by the resident only (while wearing gloves). Trick-or-treaters should not reach into a bowl of candy.

■The Town encourages residents participate in “one-way trick-or-treating” where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for trick-or-treaters to grab as they pass by. If you are preparing goodie bags, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after preparing the bags.

■A costume mask should not be used as a substitute for a cloth mask unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around the face. Do not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.

■A costume mask should not be used as a substitute for a cloth mask unless it is made of at least two layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose. Do not wear a costume mask over a cloth mask as it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.

■Observe good hand hygiene, including hand washing and use of alcohol-based sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol.  Carry hand sanitizer and use it often, especially after coming into contact with frequently touched surfaces and before eating candy.

■Adhere to social distancing guidelines of at least 6 feet of physical distance from all other participants who are not members of the same household. 

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.



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