The COVID-19 pandemic has done enough to scare everyone whether they've been directly impacted or not — and now it's scaring the fun out of Halloween for some children.
Three towns in New Jersey have banned trick-or-treaters from going door-to-door for candy and other goodies out of concerns of spreading the virus. Glen Ridge in Essex County became the latest town to enact the ban, joining Somerset County's Bound Brook and Union County's Plainfield with the new restrictions.
Somewhat surprisingly, the decision came after Gov. Phil Murphy had already granted permission for the annual kids tradition to continue, as long as certain parameters and guidelines were followed.
The news came as a bit of a surprise to some Glen Ridge residents, who said that the holiday is always popular in the town. Angela Riordan said that she gave out 3,000 pieces of candy last year, and that her block is a destination for not only kids in town, but for families from surrounding cities and towns as well.
"They shut the streets down, literally the sidewalks, the streets — everything's packed," said Riordan, who was disappointed in the decision but also understood why it was made. "I've said hope is dangerous at this point, because every time you get hopeful about things, something else happens that kind of crushes the soul."
Meanwhile, a town over in Bloomfield, residents there said that they are expecting more ghouls and goblins to be roaming the streets that night.
"Bloomfield's absolutely prepared for it," Maximo Foust said enthusiastically. He added it would be "absolutely fine" if more kids came to his town this year.
It was unclear if other towns in the area or throughout the state would follow suit and prevent children from trick-or-treating this year. Just last week, Gov. Murphy said in a tweet that "Halloween is ON" and the state's Department of Health would release guidance for how to celebrate safely.
"You may wish to dress as a knucklehead this Halloween, but we don’t want anyone to act like one," Murphy said while conjuring up a favorite term of his from throughout the pandemic.
Among the suggestions are that everyone who trick-or-treats wears a proper mask covering the nose and mouth -- not a traditional Halloween mask -- that they only go out with their family group and that they stay close to home, Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.
There should be not communal candy bowls and candy should be individually wrapped in grab-and-go style and spaced out so it can be grabbed without touching other candy bags, officials said. They don't recommend handing out the candy, rather leave it out in a place where the trick-or-treaters can grab.
Anyone who answers the door or leaves out candy is suggested to wear a mask and wash their hands with soap and water frequently.
For trunk-or-treat events, cars should be spaced out with proper distance in a straight line, Persichilli said. Measures need to be taken to prevent overcrowding and groups should consider limiting participants.
Murphy urged for as many events to be held outdoors as possible. Any indoor gatherings are subjected to the capacity limit of 25 people or 25% of the maximum capacity of the room.