Halloween costume masks don't replace face masks, CDC warns

The spooky celebration is going to look a lot different this fall.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
CNET freelancer Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
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Spirit Halloween
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO and CDC websites.

Halloween celebrations will look different this year, with some regions warning against trick-or-treating due to coronavirus restrictions. But hey, at least costumed revelers will be masked and protected, right? Wrong. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its online holiday guidance Monday, warning that your average costume mask does not protect against the virus.

"Do not use a costume mask (such as for Halloween) as a substitute for a cloth mask unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers your mouth and nose and doesn't leave gaps around your face," the website reads.

And don't try to double up, either. The CDC goes on to warn that wearing a costume mask over a regular cloth face mask may make it hard to breathe, and instead recommends Halloween-themed cloth masks.

The CDC goes on to offer some advice for safely celebrating Halloween, encouraging something it calls "one-way trick-or-treating," in which individual goodie bags are lined up at the end of a driveway or yard for families to grab while going from house to house.

The CDC also gives the thumbs-up to small, outdoor costume parades where the participants are 6 feet apart; visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where social distancing is practiced and masks worn; and "open-air, one-way, walk-through haunted forests." Regular trick-or-treating, even the car-trunk version known as truck-or-treating, is discouraged, as are crowded indoor haunted houses or costume parties.

And watch out on the screaming. Though many Halloween costumes and jump scares are meant to draw screams and shrieks, that increases the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.

But at least there'll be a rare Halloween blue moon to gaze at while not having all that traditional fun.