The traditional Halloween trick-or-treating is coming up this weekend, together with lots of questions about how children can take part safely in these times of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Warren Villagomez, who chairs the COVID-19 Task Force, does not encourage public area trick-or-treating that invites congregation. However, if it comes to that point, he pleads for parents to watch over their kids.
Villagomez stated that if anyone is planning to have a public treat-or-treat, they must send in a letter to the Department of Public Safety sub-task force and the CNMI’s COVID-19 Task Force for guidance and approval.
Villagomez stated that if you’re planning to have a “grab ‘n’ go” style of trick-or-treating, the task force will provide guidance on “how can you be guided and informed on all the protective measures in the packing state of handouts.”
“We are recommending, even at a residential setting, that if you’re going to do that [treat-or-treating], you are allowed [to do so] with control measures,” said Villagomez. An example would be for candy bags that are already put together and packed with hygiene precautions and labeled. This is more for parents to know where that bag of candy came from.
Villagomez stated that they don’t have enough enforcement capability and tools that will manage those kinds of activities.
Additionally, if the task force were to allow this public event to happen, then other entities will want to have their own trick or treating event as well and it will essentially have a domino effect and, with the task force not having enough enforcement capabilities, it would be better to practice this in a private setting.
“We are weighing our options. …We don’t want to choke up social, behavioral, and mental health activities for our people,” said Villagomez.
On the other hand, they are going ahead with All Souls Day, with precautionary measures such as entry point sign-up sheets, temperature taking, adhering to the three W’s of wearing a mask, social distancing, and sanitizing of hands since there are no washing stations at the cemetery.
When going around trick-or-treating, Villagomez stated that the key is parental guidance. He urges parents not to leave their kids unattended and to make sure they bring their kids at any site with supervision.