The number of new COVID-19 cases in The City may be dropping, but it’s still not safe to party in the Castro this Halloween, officials warned this week.
“This year, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we must put the health of our communities first. San Franciscans can be proud of how well we have responded to the pandemic and followed our public health orders by wearing masks, washing our hands and avoiding large gatherings,” Supervisor Rafael Mandelman said in a joint statement with Castro Merchants president Masood Samereie.
Mandelman and Samereie stressed that local strides could be undone if people had large or small meetings over the holiday weekend, as has happened in other cities with rising cases such as Los Angeles and Philadelphia..
Typically, the Castro draws crowds on Halloween. Celebrations there are a tradition dating back to the 1940s.
However, mounting violence and growing crowds over the years resulted in the event’s cancellation after nine people were shot in 2006. The final party drew around 500,000 attendees, SFGate reported.
Last year, Halloween celebrations involved people walking through the Castro on their way to events in full costume while “a lot of tourists showed up to take photos of costumes without being hugely overcrowded,” according to Dave Karraker, a Castro Merchants board member .
For 2020, Castro business Local Take has arranged a Touchless Trick or Treat event with other merchants to provide a physically distanced trick-or-treating experience for children from 2-5 p.m.
“Keeping businesses running and making money is important but gathering in the way that we used to is not being safe,” said Suzie Jennings, a Castro Merchants board member and Spunk Salon owner. “We need to always keep in mind that we’re protecting not only ourselves but people who have a compromised immune system, and being über aware of that. I think we are a community in the Castro and we’re very important to one another.”
Karraker expressed trust in Castro residents and San Francisco at large to maintain public health protocol.
“Castro residents and all residents of San Francisco have done an outstanding job in addressing the Covid crisis. We expect nothing less on Halloween,” Karraker said.