Experts say certain fall activities are safe when you follow guidelines like masks and social distan...
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Fall Isn't Canceled — Here's How To Pick Pumpkins, Trick-Or-Treat, & More Safely

by Cat Bowen

Fall in the time of corona is going to look very different from years past. Big parties are out. Bobbing for apples is probably extinct, and trick-or-treat masks are now three-ply. But fall itself isn't cancelled — you just need to know which fall activities are safe, and which are not, so that you can still have fun without risking your health and the health of others.

All of us are feeling pretty cooped up right now, and we just want to add a little pumpkin-spice flavored normalcy back into our lives. That's why I decided to ask the experts about the relative safety of many of our favorite autumnal activities. Because, if we have an idea about the risk involved, we can make educated, informed decisions that best fit our needs and the level of risk we're willing to take. Whether you're looking to just get out of the house and explore an orchard, or you're looking to hit up a haunted hayride, I have some answers for you. Now unfortunately, bobbing for apples, three-legged races, and giant punch bowls full of rainbow sherbert and heaven knows what else are all definitely off the table. So at least for this year, you don't need to come up with an excuse for why you cannot participate. But you still need some flannel for these safe activities.


Corn Maze

Personally, corn mazes are my idea of what hell looks like when the leaves are falling, but I understand that some people (read: my children) really like them. And apparently, they're one of the safest options, provided that you take proper precautions and mask up. Dr. Vikram Tarugu tells Romper, we should absolutely "get lost in a corn labyrinth" and that it's great for "hours of walking and playing." He also suggests it's a great educational experience, and that mazes help teach children how to learn as they make their way through the tricky labyrinth.

But if the corn maze also has a hayride, that might be one to skip out on. Physician Dr. Leann Poston says that hayrides, with their close confines, loud talking, and seats facing each other, aren't a good idea to enjoy with people outside your pod. If you do decide to get on a hayride, she suggests masking up and trying to sit facing the outside of the trailer.


Pumpkin Patches & Carving Jack-O-Lanterns

Courtesy of Cat Bowen

Pumpkin patches and carving jack-o-lanterns are also great, safe activities. Poston tells Romper, "After you collect your pumpkins and take them home, leave them outside for a couple of days. Any viral particles present should be not infectious by then. Wash your hands after handling the pumpkin — no need to use Clorox or other disinfectants as SAR-Co-V 2 is not hardy enough to live outside for long." Bonus points if your pumpkin has a mask. (You know the stencil for that is coming.)


Trick-Or-Treating With Caution

Trick-or-treating will definitely look different, but it doesn't have to completely disappear. "Stay with your social group when trick-or-treating — travel with your social group to decrease exposure to others who may be infected," Poston says, also adding that everyone should wear a mask, and that it "should be easy to incorporate one into your costume when going up to houses."

Thankfully, she says that COVID is not hardly on surfaces for long, and she hasn't heard of any documented cases of COVID transmission from touching a surface. "To be safe, don't eat unwrapped candy, and consider letting the candy sit for a day or two before eating it. Otherwise, just wash your hands after removing the wrappers. For those passing out candy, consider sitting outside to decrease the risk of transmission." Personally, I will be passing out candy from the edge of my broomstick. I'm getting creative, people.

And Poston had a great idea to let your kids decorate their own masks. Getting them in the creative spirit will help ease the blow of having to wear it to go out.


Apple Picking

Courtesy Cat Bowen

Both doctors agree that apple picking is a safe activity. However, don't go around eating all the apples like you normally would. Buy what you like, and wash them thoroughly at home before you eat them. I know that a huge part of apple picking is taste testing, but unless you have cold, running water handy, it's not a great idea.


Playing Outside/Hiking/Leaf Finding

"The cooler dropping weather shouldn't hinder children's sports," Tarugu says. "So grab a hat and jacket, plan the fall activities, and head outdoors." Follow the distance guidelines, wear a mask, and have fun.


Dr. Vikram Tarugu

Physician Dr. Leann Poston