EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The El Paso Zoo will be allowed to open and traditional trick-or-treating will not be allowed this Halloween, City officials said during a COVID-19 update on Thursday.
“Going door-to-door, taking our children is an opportunity to have large gatherings, and , unfortunately, some of the people that give candy are older people or people that have those chronic conditions,” City-County Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza said.
While trick-or-treating will not be outright banned, the City is asking El Pasoans to adjust their traditions. The City will not allow door-to-door trick or treating or Halloween parties or haunted houses. “We want to keep everyone safe, this is not to be restrictive, this is to be preventive,” Ocaranza said.
They recommended car parades, trunk-or-treating or virtual events. Halloween parties will not be allowed.
Ocaranza said people can still celebrate, but must do so in a responsible way, including wearing masks, socially distancing, hand washing and not gathering in large crowds.
For those who would like to celebrate Dia de los Muertos, he suggested people do so at home or through Zoom events with family and friends.
Samaniego said that El Paso has a community trend of gathering during holidays, increasing spikes in cases. Asking the community to be more responsive, especially around the holidays.
If we bring those two together, that can be pretty disastrous,” he said, later adding that “the community has to respond properly and we have to do the right thing at all times.”
The City is looking at what they can legally do for Halloween to help reduce cases of COVID-19, Samaniego said.
Ocaranza said that in the last couple of weeks, 14 percent of those with COVID-19 reported traveling, 13 percent have been students or daycare attendants, approximately 8 percent have been to large or family gatherings, so we need to discourage those opportunities for transmission of the virus.
The City also said they have requested that the El Paso Zoo reopen since it is outdoors and it is easier to maintain distance from others. Margo said that precautions would still be required to help prevent spread.
“It’s up to staff to determine what they can do and when they can officially reopen,” Margo said, adding he has only requested permission for the Zoo to reopen, but does not have more details.
In the last few days, El Paso has seen 200+ new cases; however, Margo does not believe this is due to Labor Day celebrations, as it is past the two-week mark.
“Unfortunately, this can be due to individuals letting their guard down, as our numbers had previously decreased,” he said.
Margo said the City will offer free flu vaccination starting Oct. 5, and emphasized that people maintain distancing, wear face masks and get flu shots.
Officials said they are actively working with school boards to determine the threshold for school closures.
Officials with the City of El Paso will hold a press conference at 2:30 p.m. Thursday.
Public Health officials, as well as officials with the Regional Emergency Preparedness office will discuss COVID-19 data trends, school guidance and upcoming holiday concerns.