Celebrating The Holidays Safely

As many begin to plan for fall and winter holiday celebrations, the Dubuque County Public Health Incident Management Team offers the following considerations from the CDC to help protect individuals and their families, friends, and communities from COVID-19.

There are several factors that contribute to the risk of becoming infected or infecting others with COVID-19 at a holiday celebration. Consider the following when deciding to host or attend a holiday gathering:

  • Community levels of COVID-19 – Family and friends should consider the number and rate of COVID-19 cases in their community and in the community where they plan to celebrate when considering whether to host or attend a holiday celebration. Information on the area’s health department website.
  • The location of the gathering – Indoor gatherings generally pose more risk than outdoor gatherings.
  • The duration of the gathering – Gatherings that last longer pose more risk than shorter gatherings.
  • The number of people at the gathering – Gatherings with more people pose more risk than gatherings with fewer people.
  • The locations attendees are traveling from – Gatherings with attendees who are traveling from different places pose a higher risk than gatherings with attendees who live in the same area.
  • The behaviors of attendees prior to the gathering – Gatherings with attendees who are not adhering to social distancing (staying at least 6 feet apart), mask wearing, hand washing, and other prevention behaviors pose more risk than gatherings with attendees who are engaging in these preventative behaviors.
  • The behaviors of attendees during the gathering – Gatherings with more preventive measures, such as mask wearing, social distancing, and hand washing, in place pose less risk than gatherings where fewer or no preventive measures are being implemented.

For further considerations on staying safe this holiday season, visit the CDC's website.


By official proclamation, the Dubuque City Council has established 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 31, as a COVID-19-safe trick-or-treat night for those wanting to participate. The City urges all who choose to participate to maintain a distance of 6 feet from others and follow other public health measures for a safe and healthy Halloween.

Celebrating in alternative ways can increase safety on trick-or-treat night, or at other Halloween events. Consider the following lower-risk Halloween activities as recommended by the Iowa Department of Health and CDC guidelines:

  • Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household and displaying them.
  • Carving or decorating pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends.
  • Decorating your house, apartment, or living space.
  • Completing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance.
  • Having a virtual Halloween costume contest.
  • Having a Halloween movie night with people you live with.
  • Having a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going house to house.

Traditional trick-or-treating is considered a high-risk activity and is not encouraged by the CDC. If residents still choose to do so, they should consider practices that reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

If you choose to go trick-or-treating:

  • Only trick-or-treat with people you live with.
  • Wear a cloth face covering (not a costume mask). 
  • Maintain 6 feet of distance from other groups. 
  • Remind kids to spot the piece of candy they want before touching it to avoid rummaging in the bowl.
  • Bring hand sanitizer for use between houses, and wash your hands when you get home.
  • Let the candy sit for a day or two before eating any.

If you’re handing out treats:

  • Get creative with distributing candy while maintaining 6 feet of distance.
    • Grab and go trick or treating allows for proper social distancing.
    • Consider setting the treats outside.
  • Consider prepackaging candy so there isn’t rummaging in a candy bowl.
  • Consider placing hand sanitizer by your treats.

Find more resources for how to celebrate Halloween safely from the CDC and the IDPH.

Celebrating Día de los Muertos? Find more tips.