The village of Oak Park has not yet determined whether it will permit kids to go trick-or-treating this year.
“That’s the million-dollar question that we don’t know the answer to yet,” said Oak Park Public Health Director Mike Charley. He’s hopeful it might be possible, but it is too soon to know.
While many Halloween costumes come with a mask, Oak Park has a historically colossal number of trick-or-treaters that go door to door each Oct. 31 and large gatherings of people contribute to the spread of COVID-19.
At the state level, no decisions have been reached yet regarding the safety of allowing children to trick or treat during the pandemic, according to Charley, who has been in contact with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).
“They’re considering whether or not they should allow for Halloween and/or give some sort of pointed recommendation to local taxing bodies,” said Charley. “We’re sort of on standby right now waiting to hear back from the state to see what their recommendations are.”
The trick-or-treating topic has already come up among local government officials.
“It is something we’ve been discussing internally already for the last couple of weeks actually,” said Charley.
Trick-or-treating in Oak Park is a wildly popular tradition. Homeowners in Oak Park, particularly on the east side of the village, see as many as 800 trick-or-treaters out collecting candy per year. Charley said he had already spoken with an east side resident curious about this year’s trick-or-treating.
“We haven’t made any decisions yet,” said Charley. “You got to be adaptive and you got to be able to make decisions and changes quickly during a pandemic.”
Charley is optimistic that trick-or-treating will happen this year, but it will depend on the number of positive COVID-19 cases and how the infection rates are trending.
“I would say that it’s likely that trick-or-treating is something that’s going to occur, but we don’t really know yet,” said Charley.
Once Charley knows, he said he will make the information known to the community by issuing a public health order.
The scariest thing this Halloween will likely be COVID-19, but Charley thinks the virus will influence the costume choices of children should they be able to trick or treat.
“Everyone’s going to be a physician or a nurse this year.”