COLUMBUS, Ohio — While many of Northeast Ohio’s haunted houses have announced plans to open for the 2020 Halloween season, the Ohio Department of Health released new COVID-19 guidelines Friday afternoon suggesting these types of attractions should be scrapped this year.
“It is strongly recommended that hayrides and haunted houses be canceled/avoided,” the state’s guidance said.
It's important to note that these are not closure orders, but merely recommendations from state health officials (see more of their guidance at the bottom of this story).
“When you look at the haunted houses, probably a much higher risk than the normal trick-or-treating just because of the close proximity inside those haunted houses," Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday before the state’s guidance was issued.
Some haunted attractions, however, have already opted to stay closed for the season -- including Bloodview Haunted House in Broadview Heights.
“We at Bloodview want to support our community, and amid the pandemic of COVID-19, we felt that opening was not in the best interest of our patrons, volunteers or community,” officials with the haunted house said in a statement earlier this month. “Your safety is paramount, and for that reason we will not be opening Bloodview for its anticipated 2020 season.”
Here are the other recommendations Ohio health officials listed for operators of Halloween events and attractions:
- Follow all state requirements and guidelines for Consumer, Retail, Services & Entertainment sectors, as well as any local requirements or guidelines.
- Do not allow groups to intermingle. Reduce capacity to allow for six-foot social distancing between groups as well as employees/volunteers at all times. Reinforce distancing with markers or dividers.
- Have hand sanitizer readily available to all participants.
- Pre-sell tickets to ensure capacities are limited.
- Consider eliminating common seating areas or play areas where children and others might congregate. If seating is provided, keep it outdoors, separate benches/tables by at least six feet or use dividers, and sanitize between each use.
- Notify your local health department immediately if you learn that someone with COVID-19 has visited your attraction.
You can see the state's full Halloween guidance below.