Washington County offers ways to safely enjoy Halloween and fall activities

For Immediate Release: Friday, October 02, 2020

Sponsored by: Health and Human Services Department, Public Health Division

UPDATE REGARDING CORN MAZES AND HAYRIDES: On October 2, 2020, after we had issued the press release below, the governor's office updated their guidance for outdoor recreation. They are now allowing corn mazes and hayrides in Phase 1 counties, with very specific restrictions on how these activities must be run. Masks and distancing are required at all U-Pick farms. We recommend taking hand sanitizer and avoiding any activities that put you in close contact with people outside of your household. Read the complete guidance.

Halloween is usually a time for door-to-door trick-or-treating, haunted houses, hayrides, corn mazes and costume parties. But this year, health experts are advising against these activities because they could easily spread the coronavirus.

“Halloween marks the beginning of the holiday season, which means more opportunities for people to gather indoors and participate in activities that could put them, their families and our community at risk,” said Dr. Christina Baumann, Washington County Deputy Health Officer. “Most of us are wearing face coverings, maintaining our distance and keeping our gatherings small, and we need to continue taking these precautions during holiday celebrations.”

Baumann suggests skipping traditional trick-or-treating and opting for these safer activities instead:

  • Hide candy in the backyard for a scavenger hunt.
  • Organize an outdoor costume contest or scary movie viewing where people can stay six feet apart.
  • Host a virtual Halloween karaoke party.
  • If you do dress up, wear a cloth face covering underneath or as part of your costume; regular Halloween costume masks do not prevent the spread of coronavirus.
  • Attend small gatherings where alcohol consumption is limited, as drinking could increase the chance that you forget to maintain distance.

Washington, Multnomah and Clackamas counties are tied together and are still in Phase 1 of the governor’s reopening plan. Indoor and outdoor cultural, civic and faith gatherings are limited to 50 people, and indoor social get-togethers are limited to 10 people. In Phase 1, activities such as haunted houses, hayrides and corn mazes are not allowed.

“Many farms are following Phase 1 guidance to keep their customers safe,” said Baumann. “We encourage community members to pick their pumpkins at these farms.” 

Roloff Farms in Hillsboro, for example, has implemented a contactless reservation ticketing system that helps them manage the number and flow of people through the farm. “We closed our Adventure Zone play area, and we won’t be doing the wagon tours this year,” said Matt Roloff, owner at Roloff Farms. “It’s definitely a financial sacrifice, but we want to keep our visitors and staff safe, so we are doing what we can to stick to the recommendations and guidelines.”

For more holiday health and safety tips, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html.

Media Contact:

Wendy Gordon, Department Communications Coordinator