Every year on Oct. 31, thousands of kids of all ages dress up in costume and walk door-to-door collecting Halloween candy. The landmark Spadena house, universally known as the “Witch’s House,” on Walden Drive draws between 4,000 and 5,000 trick-or-treaters from within and outside the City each Halloween.
The childhood haunt is a Mecca on All Hallows Eve, with its storybook features and sloping roof reminiscent of a drooping witch’s hat. However, current owner Michael Libow said during a Sept. 29 special Health and Safety Commission meeting that he is looking into an alternative livestreamed event/tour from his home that night.
During the Sept. 29 meeting, the Commission discussed the possibility of imposing restrictions on Halloween trick-or-treating and “trunk-or-treating” due to COVID-19 health concerns. The City’s Medical Advisory Task Force–comprised of a group of leading experts in their respective medical fields formed in March as part of the City’s proactive efforts to flatten the curve–attended and weighed in on the matter.
As the holiday approaches, the Commission voted unanimously in favor of recommending the City impose more stringent guidelines than the county and ban trick-or-treating and trunk-or-treating the evening of Oct. 31. The Commission’s recommendation will be considered by the City Council during its the Oct. 13 meeting.
“I am a firm believer that we should not have trick-or-treating,” David B. Agus, M.D. said. “And I am a supporter of banning trick- or- treating because it really is a statement that this virus is not gone.
Much of Beverly Hills has forgotten about the virus, but the virus hasn’t forgotten about us.”
“While I recognize and deeply sympathize with the sacrifice that children and young people have made during this pandemic, if we’re all in agreement that there’s no risk-free situation, I would not want them to delay or lose completely their ability to go to school because something happened on Halloween,” Kirk Y. Chang, MD said. “I don’t think it’s going to be an ideal or fear-free or risk-free experience. I’m in favor of a straight ban, and I would encourage residents to turn their porch lights off this year.”
On Sep. 8, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) issued the first official Halloween Guidance document listing the following activities as not permitted: Halloween gatherings, events or parties with non-household members, even if they are conducted outdoors; carnivals, festivals, live entertainment, and haunted house attractions; door to door trick-or-treating; and “trunk-or-treating,” which is where people go from car to car instead of door to door to receive Halloween candy. However, Public Health revised the document on Sep. 10, moving door to door trick-or-treating and trunk-or-treating from “not permitted” to “not recommended.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also issued Halloween Safety Guidance, discouraging gatherings of any kind outside of one’s immediate household, including Halloween activities.
Activities that meet safety guidelines include online parties/contests, car parades that comply with public health guidance, Halloween movie nights at drive in theaters, Halloween themed dinners at outdoor restaurants, Halloween themed art installations at outdoor museums and decorating homes and yards with Halloween themed ornaments.
Halloween festivities should be limited, as social distance may be difficult to maintain when passing out candy and walking from door to door. Health officials fear the potential spreading of the virus from people who may be asymptomatic or symptomatic.
To learn more about the Halloween guidance issued by Public Health, visit http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/media/coronavirus/docs/community/GuidanceHalloween.pdf.
To learn more about the Halloween Safety Guidance issued by the CDC, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html.