As Utah reels from rising numbers of COVID-19, college students across the state are making plans for Halloween.
Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted a list of precautions and alternate activities to safely celebrate Halloween. However, a group called Utah Tonight appeared determined to throw a Halloween party in protest of the pandemic social distancing guidelines, according to its social media accounts.
The party has officially been canceled, with event organizers claiming harassment and intimidation as the reason why. Thousands were expected to attend the event, despite coronavirus guidelines currently in place.
The event’s website said those 18 years or older had to sign a disclaimer, which stated they understood they were putting themselves at risk of getting COVID-19.
“The more attendees we get, the more our voices will be heard,” the event details stated.
The controversy comes as COVID-19 cases spike in Utah, with the Utah Department of Health reporting 1,837 new cases Thursday.
In September, Utah County health officials attributed a spike in cases to off-campus activities, including parties, from Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University students.
Amid the guidelines, students at SLCC are finding alternatives for celebrating Halloween this year.
“It’s trying to find as much stuff you can do indoors, like decorating your house or apartment, watching as many Halloween movies as you can,” said James Arias, who recently took a sociology course at SLCC. “I myself am building a costume of my own. I can’t wear it outside, but it’s fun to build it.”
Culinary student Raymond Stapleton, however, said he thinks the precautions are extreme.
“I call nonsense on this,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense to me how 2020 Census takers can go door-to-door, but kids can’t when trick-or-treating. I don’t think I would attend the [Utah Tonight] party, but I think these restrictions are out of hand.”
Communication student Adrian Ortiz-Montoya said, like so much around the pandemic, it’s about finding a balance.
“People should definitely follow the CDC guidelines and I think people should still be able to celebrate, just safely,” he explained. “If there is something people want to do that doesn’t follow guidelines, they should wait until next year. This year is unique, but we can still celebrate Halloween.”