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New York (CNN Business)Add trick-or-treating to the list of social activities upended by the pandemic this year.
Given the highly infectious nature of Covid-19, it’s not the safest idea to go door-to-door with the kids to collect Halloween treats.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued Halloween safety guidelines last month in which the agency deemed traditional trick-or-treating a “high risk activity.”
But what if the treats show up on your doorstep instead, in something called a “boo bag?”
Boo Bags are a Halloween trend that have gained some traction in suburban neighborhoods in recent years.
Families fill up bags with Halloween treats and leave them anonymously in front of neighbors’ or friends’ doors. The idea is that the recipient of the bag has been “booed” and must now “boo” someone else with a surprise trick-or-treat bag.
The CDC said this type of one-way trick-or-treating — in which individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go in places that allow people to keep a safe distance from their neighbors, such as the end of a driveway or the edge of a yard — was a “moderate risk” alternative. The agency suggested people still wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 second before and after preparing the bags.
Retailers like CVS, Target and Meijer are promoting boo bags this year as Covid-19 cases tick up in much of the country.
Drugstore chain CVS (CVS)said it is partnering with Hershey (HSY) to distribute one million “Boo bags” for Halloween. It said the decorative brown bags will be available nationwide at its stores and for free with a CVS pharmacy purchase.
Target (TGT) said it’s also on board with the Boo Bag idea. The retailer said this year it’s giving away Boo bag starter kits this month to its drive up, order & pickup shoppers.
Dr. Syra Madad, an epidemiologist and senior director, system-wide special pathogens program at NYC Health + Hospitals, said while it’s prudent to opt for safer trick-or-treating options this year, families still have to be cautious.
“If you tell someone they can’t do something at all, they likely won’t abide by it,” said Madad. “So it is better to pick a technique that can reduce the risk of transmission of the virus.”
Madad said families should also consider the rate of community transmission in their area. “If there’s a lot of community transmission, then any trick-or-treating technique can be risky,” she said.
Lastly, her thought about wiping down the Boo Bag and candies: “It’s an overkill,” she said. “It might make you feel better but Covid-19 is primarily a respiratory virus.”
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