With coronavirus cases across the United States rising, whether it’s safe to celebrate Halloween has become a widely debated topic.
The spooky holiday lands on Saturday this year, which means Americans would typically be out trick-or-treating or attending Halloween parties.
This year, however, celebrations will look different - or non-existent.
According to experts, this is what people need to know ahead of Halloween, and whether it will be safe to trick-or-treat on 31 October.
What does the Center for Disease Control and Prevention say about trick-or-treating?
According to the CDC, which has shared tips for staying safe this Halloween, there are ways to trick-or-treat that are in accordance with coronavirus precautions.
The agency suggests avoiding direct contact with trick-or-treaters, and giving out candy outdoors, if possible.
For the safest option, the CDC also recommends people give out individually wrapped treats, wash their hands before handling the treats, and wear a mask.
For those doing the trick-or-treating, the health agency has reminded people to bring hand sanitiser, and to use it after touching objects or other people - and to wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you get home and before you eat any treats.
However, the CDC does note that door-to-door trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children is listed among its highest-risk Halloween activities and is not recommended.
Is trick-or-treating allowed everywhere?
With cases steadily increasing, some cities across the country have strongly encouraged people not to trick-or-treat.
In California, health officials in Los Angeles attempted to ban the activity outright - a guideline that has since been walked back after intense backlash.
In New York, trick-or-treating has been banned indoors, meaning children will not be able to go door-to-door in apartment buildings.
“Most important thing we have learned throughout this whole crisis, outdoors is better than indoors. So with trick-or-treating, should all be outdoors, only outdoors. No trick-or-treating inside apartment buildings, for example. Do everything outdoors,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
With guidelines differing by state, it is important to check local guidance before attempting to participate in the Halloween activity.
What other precautions should you take this Halloween?
In addition to safety precautions about trick-or-treating, the CDC has also encouraged people to make their cloth masks part of their costumes, while reminding Americans that costume masks are not a substitute for cloth masks.
“Do NOT wear a costume mask over a cloth mask. It can make breathing more difficult,” the CDC states.
The health agency also warned those celebrating the holiday to stay at least six feet away from anyone who does not live in the same household as you, whether you are indoors or outdoors.
Are there any Halloween activities that the CDC does not recommend?
In addition to traditional trick-or-treating, the CDC also lists large indoor costume parties, indoor haunted houses, and hayrides as high-risk activities to avoid this Halloween.
The lowest-risk activities are things such as carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household, having a virtual Halloween costume or having a Halloween movie night with people you live with.