Whether it's socially distanced or online, Halloween can still happen in some form.

By Tim Nelson
September 21, 2020
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Anchiy/Getty Images
| Credit: Anchiy/Getty Images

As the days gradually grow shorter and we inch closer to Halloween, parents and kids alike are understandably anxious about how trick-or-treating will function during the pandemic. With the course of events hard to predict seemingly from week to week, there's no telling what late October has in store for us — especially with experts warning that Covid-19 could collide with the early days of flu season in a dangerous way. 

As you might imagine, major candy companies have a very vested interest in ensuring American families feel they can safely celebrate Halloween. To that end, confectioners like The Hershey Company and Mars Wrigley are outlining some safety tips and alternative approaches so folks can safely stay in the spooky spirit of the season — and eat plenty of candy.

Recently, The Hershey Company launched a "Halloween 2020" website centered on tips for safe trick or treating. As conditions are different in pretty much every state and county, the site takes in data from the WHO, usafacts.org, and other sources to create a color-coded map of every U.S. county, offering recommendations for the safest way to experience Halloween in each location.

For example, those in a "yellow" zone could potentially try drive-up or contactless trick-or-treating, while families in "red" zones might want to stick to homebound activities like an in-house scavenger hunt or Zoom parties coordinated with the neighbors. 

While Hershey hopes to help provide some clarity and advice (in addition to urging people to follow appropriate CDC regulations), Mars Wrigley has put their focus on turning Halloween into something of a virtual experience. The second the clock strikes midnight and the calendar turns to October 1st, they'll launch Treat Town, a free app billed as "the world's first-ever digital Halloween Trick or Treating experience." 

In essence, the app moves trick-or-treating into an online interactive space, where kids and families can create their own avatars, "host" trick-or-treaters, and collect in-app "candy" that can be redeemed for the real thing either at select retailers or online. For those in search of a safe alternative to going out to trick-or-treat (or just want to turn All Hallow's Eve into a monthlong experience), it's a decent way to replicate the ritual of Halloween without putting on (not so fun or spooky) masks.

Similar to Hershey, Mars Wrigley also recommends taking certain precautions before, during, and after trick-or-treating. Among the usual Halloween safety tips, their advice (developed in partnership with the National Safety Council) includes handing out wrapped candy, carrying hand sanitizer and extra masks, and letting candy sit for 24 hours — or disinfecting the wrappers — before eating. 

No matter how you approach it, Halloween is going to be at least a little bit scarier this year for reasons that have nothing to do with anyone's costume. But with some advanced planning (and/or a smartphone), kids and parents don't have to give up on the holiday entirely. Here's hoping that 2021 brings with it some less frightening times.

This Story Originally Appeared On alrcom