Durham Halloween Safety Guidelines & Events

Because of COVID-19, Halloween is going to be different this year. Durham residents have done a great job suppressing the coronavirus, wearing masks, social distancing, and washing hands. We've kept our virus count low, and the last thing we want is for Halloween to become a super-spreader event in our community.  

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) has now issued guidance for having a safe Halloween which urges local governments to take any necessary precautions to keep our residents safe and healthy. Durham’s local guidance incorporates these recommendations of NCDHHS.

October 6 Press Conference

HALLOWEEN Safety Guideline FAQS

Learn about DPR's Halloween Events & Activities Opens in new window1. Is traditional, door-to-door trick-or-treating allowed this year?

Traditional, door-to-door trick-or-treating is strongly discouraged this year. NCDHHS guidance cites traditional, door-to-door trick-or-treating as a high risk activity.

2. Can I trick-or-treat in a small group with family and/or friends?

If your family wants to trick-or-treat with a few other families, we strongly advise you to pre-arrange all visits. Groups should remain small and remain outside throughout the duration of the event. All participants should practice social distancing when possible and wear COVID-safe masks. Treats or other items should be transmitted without touching. 

3. Are Trunk-or-Treat events allowed this year?

No. NCDHHS guidance cites trunk-or-treat events where children gather in large groups in church parking lots and move from car to car as a high risk activity. 

Faith communities or civic groups may have drive-through, contact-free activities in parking lots or other suitable locations. All volunteers must be wearing COVID-safe face coverings and maintaining social distance throughout the event.

4. If I live in a neighborhood that normally receives large crowds of trick-or-treaters, how can I discourage large gatherings?

Some Durham neighborhoods have hundreds or even thousands of trick-or-treaters each year. Unfortunately, it's important that we not have this kind of unsafe mass gathering this Halloween. We are asking residents of these neighborhoods to keep their porch lights off to discourage mass gatherings of visitors.

5. How will I know if a neighborhood is not participating in Halloween?

Some neighborhoods will be posting signage around the neighborhood announcing this to Durham residents. Neighbors are also urged to keep porch lights off to indicate they are not participating.

6. Will the City of Durham provide barriers, cones, or police officers to manage Halloween traffic in neighborhoods this year?


7. Are large gatherings allowed?

Indoor Halloween parties are very strongly discouraged. They are among the riskiest Halloween activities.

In accordance with current state and local orders, up to 25 people are allowed indoors at once and up to 50 people can gather safely outdoors.  The statewide, 11pm curfew on alcohol sales will also continue to be enforced.

8. Are face coverings required during Halloween activities? 

You should wear a face covering whenever social distancing is not possible during activities. Do not use a costume mask as a substitute for a cloth mask unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers your mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around your face. Do not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.

9. What are some low-risk, alternative Halloween activities?

Durham Parks and Recreation (DPR) will host several contact-free Halloween and Fall Festival events in October. Space is limited and events require pre-registration to participate so that the department can control the size of the crowds to comply with state orders. Find more information and register.

Other alternative activities:

  • Virtual Halloween celebrations among friends, church groups and others, including virtual Halloween costume contests
  • Pumpkin carving at home, or outside in your yard with friends who are socially-distanced
  • Watching scary Halloween movies
  • Putting Halloween decorations up inside or outside your home
  • Dressing up at home with family
  • Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance (children should stay within their household groups)
  • Scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going house to house

10. Should I participate in any Halloween activities if I am feeling sick?

No. Families and participants are encouraged to self-monitor for symptoms such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath and be aware that a person can become infectious before they become ill, or without becoming ill. If they develop symptoms, participants should stay home. More information on how to monitor for symptoms is available from the CDC.