By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief
Beloved fall traditions are going to look different in 2020 as Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issues guidance for celebrating Halloween.
Activities that will not be permitted when it comes to Halloween celebrations as per Public Health guidance include gatherings or parties with non-household members, carnivals, festivals, live entertainment, and haunted house attractions.
“As fall approaches, families start to plan for the upcoming holiday season beginning with Halloween,” according to the statement. “Since some of the traditional ways in which this holiday is celebrated does not allow you to minimize contact with non-household members, it is important to plan early and identify safer alternatives.”
Door to door trick or treating and “trunk or treating” events—which were originally on the “not permitted” list when the guidelines were released—have been moved to a “not recommended” category.
“Door to door trick or treating is not recommended because it can be very difficult to maintain proper social distancing on porches and at front doors, ensure that everyone answering or coming to the door is appropriately masked to prevent disease spread, and because sharing food is risky,” according to the guidelines.
Online parties/contests, car parades that comply with public health guidance, movie nights at drive-in theaters, Halloween-themed meals at outdoor restaurants, and dressing up homes and yards with Halloween-themed decorations are all permitted under the order.
On Tuesday, September 15, Executive Director of the Palisades-Malibu YMCA Jim Kirtley confirmed that as far as he knew, the annual pumpkin patch was on track to open October 1.
Over the next month and a half, Public Health will be working with schools across Los Angeles County that are reopening services to a limited number of cohorted students with high need for in-person support. As of Monday, September 14, Public Health had received nearly 60 applications from schools. A list of schools who have submitted applications will be posted weekly by the department.
No campus in the county will be allowed to reopen to all K-12 students until at least November, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times on Thursday, September 10.
In an update on Monday, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner reported that the district began an effort to test for COVID-19 throughout the school community.
“With several months of planning and preparation and a few weeks of trial testing behind us, we’ve begun testing staff who are currently working at school sites as well as their children who will be participating in child care at schools,” Beutner said. “This past Thursday and Friday, Los Angeles Unified tested more than 5,000 staff members and their children.”
Over the next several weeks, Beutner continued, all staff and students will be provided with an initial baseline test. After that, there will be periodic testing based on advice from epidemiologists at Stanford, UCLA and John Hopkins University.
“I’ll finish this morning by trying to answer the question I’m asked every day, ‘When are students going back to school?’” Beutner said. “The short answer, as soon as it’s safe and appropriate for them to do so.”
Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer shared in a statement on Monday, September 14, that slowing the spread of the coronavirus has required the county to work together in ways it has not really needed to do before.
“From our government agencies to our community organizations and institutions, from our businesses to each and every resident in our community—so many have taken and continue to take actions to protect themselves and to protect other people,” Ferrer said.
“This pandemic is frustrating and heartbreaking—and not the least of it is that we desperately want to go back to living our lives the way they were before. Unfortunately, as we have already experienced, doing so creates illness and devastation for many, including people who are very vulnerable.”
The number of confirmed cases in Los Angeles County, excluding Long Beach and Pasadena, had reached 241,374 with 5,918 deaths as the Palisadian-Post went to print Tuesday. There were 121 confirmed cases in Pacific Palisades, with an additional 26 in the Palisades Highlands.
Public Health confirmed 47 new deaths and 474 new cases of COVID-19 in its daily update on Tuesday. The agency added that the lower number of new cases, in part, reflect reduced testing due to wildfire smoke and recent extreme weather.
“Public Health reminds residents that testing capacity across the county remains high and appointments are available,” the statement said. “Testing is also widely available within the provider community.”
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