HOPEWELL, Va. (WRIC) — The spookiest time of the year is even spookier this year. The fear of spreading the coronavirus is leading cities, organizations and neighborhoods to cancel annual Halloween events.

The City of Hopewell announced today that they have made the difficult decision to cancel their annual Hopewell Haunts celebration due to COVID-19. The city says they hope to reinstate the event in 2021.

Halloween takes place on a Saturday this year but the Harris poll predicts many families will not be participating during the pandemic. The poll says 73% of families do not anticipate taking their children trick-or-treating at all.

While the CDC and the City of Hopewell recommend avoiding traditional trick-or-treating activities this fall, the release does include tips and alternatives for families.

Trick-or-treaters are asked to wear face masks, practice social distancing, sanitize treats before sharing them and only visit the houses of family, friends and neighbors.

Creative alternatives to traveling door-to-door to pick up candy include:

  • A Halloween candy scavenger hunt for immediate family members;
  • A virtual Halloween party with family and friends; and
  • A virtual pumpkin carving contest with family and friends.

According to the release, “The City discourages and does not sanction trunk-or-treat type of events, because of the difficulties of controlling social distancing and other safety measures with a crowd of excited children. The City will not participate in such events, but public safety officials will be watching events for safety concerns.”