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Realistic rules needed for 2020 trick or treat

“At least there will be no shortage of masks,” so goes one joke about Halloween 2020.

It will be upon us in just a few weeks. And, while it may not seem a priority to many in government at all levels, it needs to be addressed.

Halloween rivals Christmas in some ways in popularity among children. Each October, they delight in dressing up and ringing doorbells or knocking on doors, greeting people with “Trick or treat!”

We adults — many of us, anyway — enjoy seeing them. Is that Joey from down the street behind that superhero mask? Is that Susie from school dressed up as Cinderella? Take another handful of candy, kids.

How do we explain to the children that this year is different — or that there will be no Halloween this time?

Officials in some local and state governments have begun thinking about the situation. Some in local governments, especially many Mahoning Valley municipalities, already have been discussing it. Saying it’s the holiday he receives the most phone calls about, Girard Mayor James Melfi recently said he and other area mayors have been discussing what to do about Halloween trick or treat this year.

Melfi noted at a public meeting earlier this month that plans still are being worked out for trick or treating during this coronavirus pandemic, but that it looks like it will be a drive- thru event with items placed in the trunks of vehicles and kids staying inside the cars.

The local Mahoning Valley Mayor’s Association is discussing details and receiving help from the Western Reserve Port Authority.

The Ohio Department of Health also has released a list of recommendations. It’s not ordering, at least yet, that trick-or-treating should not be permitted this year. Obviously, activities such as hayrides and haunted houses should be avoided, the agency suggests.

At some point, all localities will have to make decisions. Setting times and dates for trick-or-treating falls to them.

Our suggestion is this: Many parents will allow their children to go trick-or-treating, whether the activity is sanctioned or not. Count on it. That may be taking a chance with COVID-19, but rest assured, it will happen. It will be up to individual households to decide whether their children dress up and hit the street. Our advice on that is to be very, very careful.

For many households, especially those including older people, answering the door on Halloween will not be a good idea. Perhaps setting a bowl of candy outside and watching the kids from a window is an option.

But local and state governments, recognizing that Halloween is going to happen, should release realistic guidelines on it, designed to keep everyone as safe as possible. The sooner that is done, the better.

And, of course, don’t forget to wear your mask.

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