County of Marin - News Releases - Safe Fall Holiday Guidance

For Immediate Release
September 25, 2020

Timely Alternatives for Safe & Fun Holidays

Public Health Division shares advice for Halloween and Dia de los Muertos

San Rafael, CA – As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause illness, hospitalizations, and deaths in Marin County, the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is offering families safe and responsible options to celebrate Halloween and Dia de los Muertos while preventing the disease’s spread.

A child wears an Incredible Hulk mask while sitting in a carA local alternative to trick-or-treating and Dia de los Muertos gatherings is Marin Center's Halloween Fair Food Drive-Thru Spooktacular between October 23 and November 1.
With October 31 five weeks away, HHS’ Public Health Division has released safe celebration guidelines, urging residents to seek at-home and virtual festivities and is strongly discouraging customary activities like door-to-door trick-or-treating or large multi-household parties, which can be high risk for COVID-19 transmission. Traditional celebrations encourage touching surfaces like doorbells, door handles, and candy bowls, and make it more difficult to maintain physical distancing.

All year long, traditional holiday activities often promote the congregating and mixing of households, which increases the risk of transmitting COVID-19. It is important to plan early and identify safer options, said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County Public Health Officer.

“Adopting new ideas or making modifications to our customs can reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19, while allowing families a way to celebrate these time-honored traditions,” Willis said. “Regardless of how you choose to celebrate Halloween or Dia de los Muertos, it is important to maintain vigilance with wearing proper face coverings, practicing physical distancing and good hygiene, and keeping other personal protection measures in mind.”

One local alternative is the Marin Center’s Halloween Fair Food Drive-Thru Spooktacular between October 23 and November 1. Parents and kids may don their costumes and prepare to be spooked in the Marin Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium parking lot with family-friendly haunted surprises and activities while staying inside their cars.

Festive treats will range from pumpkin and ghost-themed candy apples, black-and-orange cotton candy, giant corndogs, giant turkey legs, funnel cake, churros, kettle corn, caramel corn, strawberry lemonade, and more. Operated by the same team that presents the Marin County Fair each year, the Spooktacular will prioritize the safety of its guests and vendors. All event personnel will wear face coverings and gloves and will sanitize surfaces frequently as they deliver properly packaged food.

In addition, the Marin County Fair plans to host themed-online contests throughout the month of October. Details will be posted to their Instagram and Facebook pages.

Some safer alternatives for celebrating Halloween or Dia de los Muertos include:

  • Dressing up homes and yards with Halloween themed decorations, or decorating homes with images and objects to honor deceased loved ones.
  • Online parties such as costume contests, pumpkin carvings or other virtual family celebrations.
  • Car-based events (where individuals stay in their vehicles) that comply with public health guidance, such as:
    • Drive-by events or contests where individuals dress up or decorate their vehicles.
    • Drive-through events where individuals remain in their vehicles and drive through an area with Halloween displays.
    • Drive -in events where individuals can receive a treat bag (limited to commercially packaged non-perishable treats) or take away item(s) from an organizer while the participants remain in their vehicle.
  • Movie nights at drive-in theaters.
  • Holiday-themed meals at outdoor restaurants
  • Holiday-themed art installations at an outdoor museum.
  • Preparing traditional family recipes with members of your household.
  • Playing music in your home that your deceased loved ones enjoyed
  • Making and decorating masks or making an altar for the deceased

Gatherings and events not allowed under current local and state health orders:

  • Halloween gatherings, Dia de los Muertos celebrations, events or parties with non-household members are not permitted unless they are part of your household social bubble of 12 individuals or less, are conducted outdoors, and are otherwise in compliance with the social distancing health order
  • Carnivals, festivals, live entertainment, and haunted house attractions are not allowed.
  • Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household
  • Having a large dinner party with people from different households coming from different geographic locations
  • Attending large indoor celebrations with singing or chanting

The full guidance (English) (Spanish) is available at


Dr. Matthew Willis
Public Health Officer
Health and Human Services

3240 Kerner Blvd.
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 473-4163
Email: Dr. Matthew Willis
Marin HHS website