When You Should Go Trick-or-Treating (If You're Choosing to Do It)

Katie Bourque, Zee Krstic
·5 min read

From Good Housekeeping

The anticipation around Halloween 2020 is at an all time high, since the novel coronavirus pandemic has seemingly changed all the ways we normally celebrate with friends and family. You've probably had ample time to carefully plan out your costumes and find a Halloween-friendly face mask, and may already be planning virtual parties or at-home games and fun. But if you're thinking about heading out to trick or treat with your little ones, you might be wondering if there are any new rules in place that'll affect when or what time trick-or-treating will start this year.

Some areas are indeed facing new mandates from local officials on what they can and can't do for Halloween this year: Parades, events, haunted houses, and neighborhood parties are mostly canceled or reimagined altogether. Some cities have passed special ordinances around restricting trick-or-treating outright, while others will not block locals from hitting the streets on Halloween, but have updated their advice on how you should be celebrating if you choose to in public.

A few regions have indeed restricted when you're able to get out for Halloween. You don't want to be knocking on doors at the wrong times, so checking to see when trick-or-treating begins in your area is a good idea. Ultimately, however, it all depends on where you live — and the likelihood of new rules on trick-or-treating also largely depends on the rate of COVID-19 spread in your state.

Before you make plans, be sure to check in to see what kind of guidelines your town, municipality, or state have put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19. You'll find up-to-date information, including any curfews or mandates, from your local public health department. You may also find guidance from leading health officials on Halloween safety from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the World Health Organization.

Trick-or-Treat hours in areas across the country:

Because each municipality is in charge of creating local mandates or guidelines, there aren't any official national hours for trick-0r-treating on Halloween. A 2015 poll conducted by FiveThirtyEight suggests that most Americans agreed that trick-or-treaters should start arriving by 6 p.m. and be finished by 9 p.m. at the latest. During the pandemic, some regional programming put on by local officials has moved into the day hours, so don't rule out the possibility that some families may trick or treat during earlier afternoon hours (after all, Halloween falls on a Saturday this year!).

But some towns are a little stricter: Places like Yonkers, New York; Chesapeake, Virginia; and multiple towns in New Jersey have curfews on Halloween night, some punishable by fine. If you think that your town may have either a curfew or set trick-or-treating hours, your best bet is to either call your municipality, or check your local newspaper or broadcast news station before Halloween.

Below, we're sharing a selection of updated trick-or-treating hours and events across the country:

  1. Camden, New Jersey: New Jersey's many suburbs, townships, and cities are all celebrating Halloween differently this year, at different times in the day. Keep track of each town's Halloween guidelines with this NJ.com guide. In Asbury Park, for example, a drive-thru Halloween event will take place at City Hall from 1 to 3 p.m. — but elsewhere in Monmouth County, trick-or-treating hours may begin as early as 3 p.m. and last until 8 p.m. The same is true for Camden, where officials have issued a voluntary curfew to end trick-or-treating at 8 p.m.

  2. Beverley Hills, California: According to ABC affiliate KABC, officials in Beverley Hills have outright banned trick-or-treating in the city (including car-to-car trunk events). Certain high-trafficked streets and intersections will also be blocked to non-resident pedestrians and cars from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

  3. Yonkers, New York: NBC4 reports that all children under the age of 16 need to be home by 11p.m. latest, if not earlier based on their age group. Those accompanied by parents or with explicit written permission may bypass the curfew, but violators will have their families notified by the police.

  4. Melrose, Massachusetts: Notably, Halloween destinations like Salem are canceling and restricting many events that take place every year, asking residents to be home by 8 p.m. and for visitors to stay home altogether. The team at Boston.com has a full list of hours and restrictions by town, but the Boston suburb of Melrose will be holding trick-or-treating activities from 4 to 8 p.m. across the area.

  5. Indianapolis, Indiana: Reporters at WISH shared a full list of suggested trick-or-treating hours right here. Those in Indianapolis are being discouraged from trick-or-treating, but the city maintains a window for door-to-door activities from 6 to 8 p.m.

  6. El Paso, Texas: Unrelated to Halloween celebrations, ABC News reports that the city of El Paso is mandating that residents remain home from 10 p.m. until 5 p.m. due to a surge in new COVID-19 cases. Trick-or-treating has been outright banned by city offcials.

Photo credit: Crystal Sing / EyeEm - Getty Images
Photo credit: Crystal Sing / EyeEm - Getty Images

If you have a toddler, or live in a neighborhood where many families have toddlers, you can expect most festivities to begin while it's still light out. In order to finish up before it gets dark, you can look up what time the sun will set near you by checking the National Weather Service before you go — the Farmer's Almanac can also give you a projected sunset time based on your ZIP code.

Before you head out, remember to bring a flashlight, look both ways before crossing the road, and to make sure your family stays together on streets, per CDC safety recommendations. And if you choose to stay in altogether, don't fret — there are plenty of ways to celebrate Halloween at home this year. Check out our best ideas below.

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