COLUMBIA — With October and the Halloween season comes a whole new set of events figuring out how to handle life during COVID-19.
The month’s events often include large crowds, interaction between patrons and staff and other circumstances that make it hard to maintain proper distancing and mask-wearing without drastically changing how these happenings work
Many organizations have decided the only way to maintain proper health and safety is to skip 2020. Others have decided otherwise.
Clinton Sease Farms (clintonseasefarm.com) has managed to stay in operation. The family-friendly corn maze and pumpkin patch opened on Sept. 18 and plans to remain open through Nov. 15, and it’s installed enhanced measures to ensure the safety of their guests. However, they presume that visitors voluntarily evaluate their personal risk of exposure to COVID-19 by visiting any public place, including the farm.
“Everyone is being cautious,” said Clinton Sease, the farm’s owner. “We only require masks on the hayride, in buildings and when talking to staff members. Otherwise we are out in the wide open spaces so everyone can come and enjoy the farm and all of the fun things we have to offer.”
The farm is operating it’s hayride at half capacity and recommends that everyone maintain six feet of social distance.
On the same grounds as Clinton Sease Farms is a haunting favorite, Deceased Farms (deceasedfarm.com).
While other haunted houses in the area, including Terror Falls, have decided to remain closed, Deceased Farms feel confident in their ability to keep guests safe.
It makes sense to question a haunted house’s ability to provide for proper safety protocols for coronavirus, as multiple people move through tight spaces, and actors are often able to touch you. As the thrill for attendees is about a good scare, people often stick close together.
Deceased Farms have enacted a set of rules that all guests must follow in order to even enter the attraction.
Management will require all guests, staff and actors to wear a mask at all times, providing one to guests free of charge if needed. The maximum number of guests within the gates of the venue and within the haunted house are limited at all times and all actors and staff will enforce proper social distancing. Common areas are disinfected by staff regularly.
Sease declined to comment specifically on safety protocols for Deceased Farms.
Outside of the Halloween world of pumpkin patches and haunted houses, another October favorite, the South Carolina State Fair (scstatefair.org), has found ways to navigate the pandemic and still have an event
“In this COVID-altered environment in which we’ve found ourselves in the last several months, it became evident as time went on that we would not be able to have the traditional fair. It’s not the responsible thing to do,” General Manager Nancy Smith said.
The fair, opens Oct. 20 through Oct. 21, will operate as a drive-thru, with food vendors remaining open through Oct. 24. Guests will be able enjoy agriculture, art, entertainment and familiar sweet and savory fair treats. Spectators will not be required to wear masks while inside their vehicle.
“We felt it was important to give back to the community and do something,” Smith offered.
“Anyone that interacts with the public on the fairgrounds will have masks on,” she added. “The food area will have masks and gloves, so no one will be exiting their car. There will be minimal interaction.”
Boo at the Zoo, a perennial event presented by Riverbanks Zoo and Garden (riverbanks.org), will also open for the Halloween season. The family-friendly event, which allows children to experience the zoo at night and trick-or-treat in their costumes, will last from Oct. 23 to Oct. 30.
Timed arrival tickets are required and a limited number are available in order to maintain safe social distancing. All guests will be required to wear masks in buildings and in areas that will not allow the proper six-feet distance between guests.