SALT LAKE CITY — To trick or treat or not this year. That is the question.

Samantha Lundin said she plans to take her kids trick-or-treating on Halloween despite the pandemic because she doesn’t want fear to control her family’s lives.

“I feel that our kids deserve to see us be brave and not see how this is affecting us. Because if we let it affect us, then we let it affect our children. And they don’t need that,” the St. George mom said.

The new coronavirus isn’t likely to go away anytime soon, she added, but it’s important to not let it change everything.

Most Utahns think children should go trick-or-treating this year, though more believe that precautions should be taken, according to a new Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll.

The survey found that 33% of Utahns believe kids should trick or treat as usual, while 37% say children should trick or treat with health considerations, like wearing face masks and social distancing.

That’s compared to 25% of Utahns who believe children should not be trick-or-treating this year amid the state’s big spike in COVID-19 cases. About 5% said they’re not sure.

Pollster Scott Rasmussen surveyed 1,000 likely voters in Utah Oct. 12-17. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

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Lundin said her family will take precautions on Halloween as they’ve done throughout the pandemic, like washing their hands when they get home. They will also trick or treat as a family rather than with a larger group.

Because of that, Lundin said she won’t make her kids — ages 6 and nearly 4 — wear masks.

‘Enjoy life’

Even as Utah’s case counts continue rising to record levels, state officials and health care leaders take an understanding stance toward those who want to take their kids trick-or-treating.

“We want people to enjoy life. We don’t want to have things so shut down that you cannot do anything, you can’t wiggle,” Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday when asked whether kids should trick or treat this year. He added that “parents are going to have to make this decision themselves, for themselves and their children.”

“We certainly would say if you go to a door, you not go in large groups, and you wait for a group ahead of you to finish at a door before you go up, so you don’t mix together.”

Those who provide candy should make sure it comes in “sanitized wrappers or containers,” he said. Parents should also examine their kids’ candy and sanitize the wrappers if needed.

“We think there’s a way to do it where you can be safe,” Herbert said.

Dr. Angela Dunn, state epidemiologist with the Utah Department of Health, said gatherings pose the biggest risk this Halloween. “So it’s really important to stay within your household (group) and wear face masks when you go out,” she said.

Likewise, Dr. Russell Vinik, University of Utah Health chief medical operations officer, said officials area “very worried” about Halloween — but not about trick-or-treating.

“What we have seen is with social gatherings, cases go up. Halloween, traditionally people love to get together, have a party at their home. That’s worked OK over the summer as people were able to do that outdoors. Now it’s getting colder, so by all means we truly want people to remember to not have those social gatherings where you’re bringing people into our homes. That is a high, high risk,” Vinik said.

Trick-or-treating, meanwhile, is “much less of a risk,” he said. “Certainly wear a mask, but if you’re outdoors, that’s much safer.”

The Centers for Disease Prevention, however, categorizes traditional trick-or-treating and trunk-or-treating, as well as indoor Halloween parties and haunted houses, as higher-risk activities.

The centers offer a list of low-risk Halloween ideas, including carving pumpkins, scavenger hunts, virtual costume contests and movie nights with those within the same household.

Breaking with tradition

Bobbie Mauss, of Vineyard, says she isn’t taking her kids trick-or-treating because she has a heart condition, putting her at high risk from the virus.

“And so it’s just not a risk we’re willing to take. We’ve talked about it as a family, and we’ve been so careful up to this point and it’s paid off so far,” said Mauss, who is also a nurse.

But the family still plans to celebrate the holiday in a unique way — by decorating “spooky” gingerbread houses and watching movies as a family. They will likely leave a sign on their door telling others that they’re not participating in trick-or-treating this year.

“I think we’re kind of going to be going into some changes of tradition anyway for a really unusual year,” Mauss said.

Her kids, ages 10 and 12, have taken the change in holiday tradition well, she said, and the family is trying to focus on “all the cool positives” that the pandemic has brought like more family time.

“Maybe next year we can get into some sense of normal, but everyone’s healthy and happy right now,” Mauss said.

Her 10-year-old daughter wanted to make sure she could still dress up. Once she was convinced she could still wear a costume — and show it to friends and cousins through video chat — “then she was like, ‘OK,’” Mauss recalled.

Cary Kreitzer, another Utah County mom, has also been brainstorming ways to minimize risk for her family this Halloween. She and her husband crafted a “candy chute” — a tunnel attached to their porch stair railing through which they’ll slide candy down to trick-or-treaters.

With her five kids between ages 6 and 14, “I don’t know if we’ll be doing the traditional walking up to the door. If we do, we’ll go right back to 6 feet right after we get off the porch,” Kreitzer said.

Although germs are a concern for her, she sees the risk level of trick-or-treating as similar to grocery shopping or getting fast food. When they get home, she will also make sure her kids wash their hands, and she plans to let the candy they gather sit for a day or two before the kids eat it to let possible germs die.

“Even our two oldest still plan to go with friends, and we just have talked to them about different rules and differences nowadays,” she said.

While her older kids in the past would go trick-or-treating at apartment complexes to maximize their potential candy, they know this year they need to decide whether they’ll visit a home based on whether they can stay physically distanced.