For a Halloween unlike any we’ve seen before, it can be hard to figure out what you can and can’t do this October.
As the state of Utah implements new COVID-19 guidelines to try and reduce the spread in areas with higher transmission rates, a number of businesses are working to make sure their customers, employees and communities can have a safe spooky season.
The Globe visited two of the haunted attractions that are still open this fall, providing a first-hand look at what the new normal looks like in regard to frights.
Nightmare on 13th is celebrating their 30th year in business with 30 Years of Terror.
“We wanted to give people a place to come and forget about the real terrors in the world right now,” said Jake Maebey, the general manager at Nightmare on 13th. “And we’re doing it in a perfectly safe environment.”
Nightmare on 13th follows all the guidelines handed down from Gov. Gary Herbert and the state of Utah as well as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All cast members are screened for symptoms and must wear face masks. The haunted house also switched to a timed ticketing system, so customers have a 30-minute window and there is less time spent in line.
Customers may need to touch some surfaces as they go through the haunted house, but there are dedicated staff who clean and sanitize commonly touched surfaces, both inside and outside the attraction, throughout each night.
In addition to all other precautions, all customers are required to maintain at least six feet of distance between groups and wear face masks throughout the entirety of the attraction. If they remove their face mask while inside the attraction the actors will not interact with them.
The Haunted Forest, located in American Fork, is one of Utah’s only major outdoor haunted attractions open this fall. This allows for a unique opportunity to social distance and gives each group more space between the eighty “wait here” signs posted throughout the attraction.
“Obviously, the Haunted Forest is a safer option than any indoor haunt because it is outside; going through the entire haunt on 20 acres of property, there is plenty of room for social distancing,” said Susie Carlson, a representative for the Haunted Forest. “And we’re encouraging no one to bunch up and for them to stay away from the parties in front and behind them.”
Everyone working at the Haunted Forest wears face coverings to protect themselves and others from COVID-19. All customers need to follow local and state COVID-19 guidelines; under the new health guidance levels, Utah County is considered a high transmission area, which requires the use of face masks.
The Haunted Forest recommends that customers purchase their tickets online to bypass the ticket line.
Both these experiences offer different outlooks and advantages. During the coronavirus pandemic, the CDC considers indoor haunted houses to be a higher risk activity, while similar outdoor activities are moderate risk. Everyone needs to assess the risk for themselves and take the necessary precautions to be as safe as possible.
It is important to do our part to keep our state safe, so we can all have a fun and safe October in the wholly unpredictable and crazy times we’re living through.