Gov. Charlie Baker said he won’t issue any “rules or mandates” about Halloween this year, instead leaving it up to Massachusetts cities and towns to decide whether kids can go trick-or-treating amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Some Massachusetts cities, such as Lawrence, Springfield, and Worcester, have banned trick-or-treating this year. Other cities and towns are allowing it but say residents should follow the Halloween guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Health, which include wearing a mask, remaining 6 feet away from others, and washing your hands and using hand sanitizer. Towns are also reminding residents that the CDC has called traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating a “higher risk” activity.
“Halloween is one of the best nights, and what’s most important this year is that any person participating in activities does so in a way that is safe for not only themselves, but also their neighbors and community,” Mayor Marty Walsh said in a statement. “We’re asking people to take the extra precautions that are necessary this year, including avoiding direct contact with trick-or-treaters, wearing masks at all times, washing hands before eating any treats, and avoiding attending or hosting gatherings.”
When Boston.com asked readers if trick-or-treating should be canceled this year, the results were split. Of the more than 1,900 who took the survey, about half of the respondents said it should be called off.
Here’s what cities and towns in the Greater Boston area are doing for Halloween this year.
Belmont: The town says residents should wear a mask, avoid crowds, use hand sanitizer, wash their hands before eating, and use a table to distribute treats.
Boston: The city is urging residents who celebrate Halloween to take precautions outlined by the CDC and Massachusetts Department of Health. Additionally, Boston Public Health Commission officials are encouraging families to find alternative celebrations this year and urging adults not to participate in gatherings or parties on Halloween.
Braintree: The town’s trick-or-treating hours are from 4 to 8 p.m., and the town asks that residents follow guidelines from the CDC and the Braintree Board of Health.
Brockton: The mayor is encouraging Brockton residents to consider skipping trick-or-treating this year, but said those who choose to participate should follow Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines.
Brookline: The town “strongly discourages” traditional door-t0-door trick-or-treating this year, says residents should shut off their exterior lights to discourage it, and those who take part should refer to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines.
Cambridge: The city is strongly encouraging residents to choose safer alternatives than traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating, and says residents who go should refer to the CDC and Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines.
Chelsea: Traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating is strongly discouraged and residents should consider safer alternatives.
Everett: Trick-or-treating will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. “As important as our health and wellness is, we must keep in mind the mental health of our children by creating some semblance of normalcy,” officials wrote on the city’s Facebook page. “Please be aware and stay in your own neighborhoods. If you do not wish to participate, keep your front lights off.”
Framingham: The city says it does not have the authority to cancel Halloween, but noted that there are several “safer, alternative ways to celebrate Halloween,” including carving pumpkins, scavenger hunts, and decorating.
Hingham: The town is asking residents to follow CDC and Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines if they go trick-or-treating.
Lexington: The town is asking residents to follow the CDC and Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines if they go trick-or-treating.
Lynn: Traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating is “strongly not recommended for Lynn residents this year,” and the city lists the CDC’s recommended Halloween activities in the categories of low risk, moderate risk and high risk.
Malden: The city reminds residents that Halloween activities are subject to the current state gathering size limits and urges residents who choose to go trick-or-treating follow CDC and Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines.
Medford: The city does not advise residents go trick-or-treating since it is considered higher risk by the CDC and has instead planned four family-friendly “contactless” activities.
Milton: The town reminds residents that the CDC considers traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating higher risk and refers residents to the CDC list of low and moderate risk activities.
Needham: The town asks residents to follow CDC guidelines and consider one-way trick-or-treating, where individually-wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go, as well as limiting your trick-or-treating group to immediate family members.
Newton: The town says large gatherings should be avoided and refers to the CDC’s list of low, moderate, and high risk Halloween activities and asks residents to follow CDC guidelines.
Quincy: The city reminds residents about current state gathering size limits and recommends residents follow CDC guidelines, which includes placing candy on a platter instead of in a bowl and participating in one-way trick-or-treating.
Revere: The town is asking residents to avoid high-risk activities such as traditional trick-or-treating, and will host a “Spooktacular Lane” drive-thru event for residents who want to safely celebrate.
Salem: Salem officials note that trick-or-treating is not a city-hosted activity, and that the decision to participate is up to each family. Those who do participate should adhere to Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines and be out no later than 8 p.m. Salem trick-or-treating is not open to residents of other towns, and the city has cancelled numerous Halloween traditions and festivities in order to discourage crowds.
Saugus: The town manager says residents should follow the Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines.
Somerville: The city strongly advises against trick-or-treating and recommends residents follow the CDC’s recommendations for lower-risk activities as well as the CDC guidelines.
Waltham: The city says it’s up to residents how they celebrate Halloween, but noted that Waltham is a high-risk community so residents should follow CDC and Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines.
Watertown: The town recommends residents follow CDC guidelines when it comes to trick-or-treating to limit the risk of exposure.
Wellesley: The town says Halloween celebrations “are a personal decision for families” and notes that face coverings should be worn along with costume masks and residents should follow CDC and Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines.
Weymouth: The city says residents should follow Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines if they choose to go trick-or-treating this year.
Winthrop: The town reminds residents that it is a “high-risk community for COVID” and says residents should follow the Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines if they choose to trick-or-treat. The town also encouraged participants to make individually wrapped goodie bags that can be placed at the end of the driveway or edge of the yard for children to take. Those who don’t wish to participate should turn their lights off.