The majority of adult New Yorkers are vaccinated against COVID-19, but the majority of children are not. And that means that few co-op and condo boards will be welcoming trick-or-treaters into their buildings when Halloween arrives on Sunday, according to the Ask Real Estate column in The New York Times.
“I’d be surprised if buildings allow young trick-or-treaters to run around, even with masks, because they cannot yet be vaccinated,” says Steven Sladkus, a partner at the law firm Schwartz Sladkus Reich Greenberg Atlas. “We’re not out of the zone of COVID.”
Last fall, during the pandemic’s second wave, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discouraged trick-or-treating, describing it as a high-risk activity to avoid. In turn, New York apartment buildings nixed the annual tradition of children riding their apartment elevators in search of sweets.
But this year feels different. Schools have reopened, many office workers have returned to their desks and restaurants are crowded. Last Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci told Americans: “Go out there and enjoy Halloween.”
The operative words are “Go out.” Halloween may be back in neighborhoods where children can roam the streets, but the conditions are not the same in apartment buildings. Although 76% of adults in New York are fully vaccinated, children 11 and under are not. With the rise of the Delta variant, buildings that had relaxed their masking rules in the early summer have reinstated some social-distancing policies.
“No building wants to be the building that allowed Halloween and there was an outbreak because of children running around with COVID,” Sladkus says.
So what are they doing instead? They’re all over the map, according to Dan Wurtzel, the president of the property management company FirstService Residential New York. On one end of the spectrum are the buildings postponing the holiday until next year; on the other are buildings with ample outdoor space, like a courtyard or communal roof deck, where they can host events like spooky movie nights or costume parties. Some buildings are trying to thread the needle, doling out goody bags in the lobby or allowing limited trick-or-treating, so long as the children wear masks and only knock on the doors of neighbors who have opted into the event.
Wurtzel doubts that many co-op or condo residents will participate in trick-or-treating, given the choice. “I don’t know how well that goes over with the resident population,” he says. “Opting in means you are going to have a lot of young children who are unvaccinated coming to your front door. Do you want that?”
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