Halloween costume ideas that reduce the spread of Covid-19

At the end of the day, the important thing is to stay safe.
At the end of the day, the important thing is to stay safe.
Image: REUTERS/Mike Blake
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Last week, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its guidelines on how to keep safe during a Halloween shaped by Covid-19. Unfortunately, most Halloween classics—door-to-door trick-or-treating, indoor haunted houses or parties, and drinking alcohol—are firmly in the CDC’s high-risk category (especially, the agency notes, when things get extra spooky: “If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised.”)

But there are still ways to celebrate safely, and that includes dressing up in the right kind of costume.

Many of the CDC’s suggested activities fall in line with what many Americans have been doing for months: stay six feet from others, avoid crowded indoor spaces, don’t go out if you’re feeling sick—and, helpfully, wear a face covering in public. The CDC says decorative or costume masks are not a substitute for a cloth one. So costume sellers are jumping on the trend; Spirit Halloween, the largest Halloween retailer in the US, released a line of festive face masks for adults and children.

But not everything retailers are selling complies with CDC guidelines. So we at Quartz came up with a few costume ideas of our own. Some you can buy, while others require more of a DIY spirit.

Make a face covering part of the costume

Is there anything cuter than a kid dressed up as an animal? I don’t think so. Masks could help complete the illusion. Draw an animal mouth on a cloth face mask, buy one, or use a service that prints images on masks. Complete the look with face paint or a decorative mask that covers just the upper half of the face. Some animals that come to mind are: foxes, dogs, cats, tigers, lions, raccoons, sharks, koalas, and pandas. You can probably think of more.

Other costumes in which a face covering would enhance the look may include doctors, nurses, vampires, zombies, Frankensteins, and anything skeletal. Or you could choose a costume that already covers the face with cloth, such as a mummy.

Costumes that include loose or non-cloth face coverings, such as astronauts, beekeepers, or brides, don’t fit the bill because they don’t have a cloth face covering that fits directly over the nose and mouth. And don’t pair a cloth mask with a full costume mask: The CDC says the two should not be worn together because they can restrict breathing.

Bring favorite characters to life

Lots of beloved (and feared) characters from comic books, movies, and TV shows have their faces covered. Characters include:

  • The Invisible Man
  • Ninjas from Mortal Kombat
  • Sister Night from HBO’s Watchmen
  • Bane from Batman
  • Joker from Batman—his face isn’t covered, but a mask can replace the deranged smile
  • Rey as a scavenger from The Force Awakens
  • Immortan Joe from Mad Max: Fury Road 
  • Woody from Toy Story—wear the bandana around the mouth instead of the neck

Characters that require bodysuits that include a face covering, such as Spiderman or Deadpool, may not fit the CDC requirement because they could lack two layers of cloth over the nose and mouth.

Just add a mask to anything

If your kid wants to dress up as Elsa from Frozen, is she going to feel less like a princess if she wears a mask while doing it? I think not. Choose something that matches the costume to create a fully integrated look. Find a red one if you’re dressing up like a strawberry, or a rainbow one if you’re dressing up like a unicorn. You get the idea.

No matter whether this year’s costumes get worn around the house or are only seen by others at a distance, the important thing is to stay safe and to do activities that make sense for your risk level. Good luck telling kids they won’t be trick or treating though.