What’s the Risk? Which Fall Activities Are Safe for Your Family During the COVID-19 Pandemic

In our first edition of What’s the Risk?, our pediatric experts covered everything from playdates to amusement parks during the coronavirus pandemic.

Now that the weather is getting cooler and favorite autumn activities are opening up, Connecticut Children’s infectious disease pediatrician Melissa Held, MD, returns with advice.

For any activity, do your research.

Make sure the activity or event will have appropriate COVID-19 safety measures:

  • Are masks required?
  • Are they limiting participants?
  • Do they have a plan for social distancing?


  • If anyone in your family is sick, please stay home and quarantine.
  • The highest risk of infection is in large gatherings where people are in close contact.
  • Being outside, even in colder weather, is still the best bet to reduce your risk, because fresh air helps disperse germs. Bundle up and get outdoors!
  • For all of the following, remember to wear a face mask (over both your nose and mouth!), stay at least six feet away from others, and wash or sanitize your hands frequently.

> Related: Ask a Pediatrician: What Should I Do When My Child Has a Common Cold During COVID-19?

Lower Risk

Two girls pick apples at apple orchard

  • Hay rides: Because this is outdoors, it can be relatively low risk if everyone is wearing masks and keeping their distance. But no squeezing onto a cart with lots of strangers! The event should limit participants and have lines clearly marked out to make social distancing easy.
  • Apple picking, pumpkin picking: Make sure your family avoids congregating in crowded spaces, for example, while waiting to weigh their pickings. Stay distanced from others and continue to wear a mask if the orchard is crowded. Ensure that staff are also wearing masks. Wash your hands before and after picking fruit.
  • Drive-in movies: Drive-in movies are a great way to get out and do something fun this autumn! Keeping your own family in one car but being near others in their cars is a good way to socialize with others without getting too close. Each car should have their own food and drink.
  • Farmers markets: Fall farmers markets are a great way to get outside and help support local merchants. Wear a mask, keep distanced from others, and wash your hands before and after buying items. If you choose to have something to eat or drink at the market and need to remove your mask, stay appropriately distanced from others.

> Related: Is Your Child Struggling With Wearing a Mask? 7 Strategies to Help

Moderate to High Risk

Group of kids trick or treating during Covid-19 pandemic wearing face masks

  • Halloween trick-or-treating: Traditional trick-or-treating is higher risk because of the typically large groups of children and potential for face-to-face and high-touch moments (like grabbing candy). You can reduce your family’s risk by taking the right precautions: Here are tips to stay safe. Want an alternative to trick-or-treating this year? Read 14 Ways to Have a Safe Halloween During COVID-19, Even in Quarantine.
  • Haunted houses: Overall, haunted houses are higher risk areas for the spread of infection like coronavirus, because they tend to get crowded, often include closed spaces, and screaming and yelling spreads germs into the air. If you’re still planning on taking your child to one, make sure that the event is carefully limiting participants and requires masks at all times.
  • Costume parade: The more crowded the parade, the riskier it will be. So make sure the event requires masks and is enforcing proper distancing, both for participants and onlookers.
  • Indoor playgrounds and trampoline parks: As the weather gets cooler this autumn, you may be tempted to move from your family’s favorite outdoor playground to something indoors. But it might be worth layering up to stay outdoors longer, because indoor playgrounds are likely higher risk areas for the spread of COVID-19 (and other illnesses): They tend to get crowded, and screaming and yelling spreads respiratory droplets into the air. As with everything else, limited participants, required masks, and proper social distancing can help reduce risk, as well as sanitizing hands immediately before and after.
  • Playdates: Playdates continue to be moderate risk because of the likely face-to-face contact. Children should wear continue wearing masks when in close proximity to one another. Outdoor playtime is still ideal, without sharing food or drink. Good hand hygiene is also very important on playdates!

> Related: 14 Ways to Celebrate Your Child’s Birthday During COVID-19

Make your family’s fall activities fun and safe.

Keep up all of the coronavirus safety measures: Wear a mask, keep your distance, wash your hands – and if anyone in your family is feeling sick, stay home!

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