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Friday, November 26, 2021

Opinion: It’s a Halloween pandemic and I don’t understand the rules anymore

I live on one of those streets in Los Angeles where children and their families come from all over the city to joke or treat. On a typical Halloween, we buy a couple hundred dollars worth of candy and we have a 24-hour line in front of our door from 6:00 pm to 9:00 am.

We sit outside in what looks like Times Square on New Years Eve. Sometimes the crowd is so dense that we become like workers on a conveyor belt, mechanically and mechanically distributing the contents of package after package to those who appear in front of us: witches, Spider-Man, ersatz Donald Trump, bloody corpses with knives stuck in their heads. Snow White.

But this year I don’t know what to do.

Will there be a massive Halloween turnout or will people stay at home?

If they come, should we be near them or turn off the lights and guiltily hide inside? Will the neighbors hand out candy or will they refrain?

On the one hand, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leading national expert on infectious diseases, said there could be a trick or a cure this year. “Go there and enjoy Halloween,” he said.

On the other hand, Dr. Fauci has never been on my street, where it seems impossible to us to follow the directions of this year. Maintain social distance, experts say. Avoid “too tight clustering”. Create individual packaging for the children, rather than asking them all to put their hands in one large bowl of candy. Attend “small gatherings”.

This is just not likely in my area.

However, I do not want to talk about Halloween, but about the moment that we are experiencing. One of the things that baffles me the most at this stage of the 19 month pandemic is that the rules don’t seem clear anymore. In 2020, we were much more withdrawn, much less free to do as we pleased, but at least we knew what we were being asked for in the name of health and safety, and how to comply.

We stayed at home for the most part last year. We communicated only inside our bubbles. We wore masks if we absolutely needed to be in a room with other people. Whenever possible, we maintained a two-meter social distance.

There was no vaccine, so we didn’t mess around.

And when Halloween came, my wife and I didn’t buy candy or open the doors – but that didn’t matter, because no one came. Angelenos received a crystal clear message: Don’t even try.

It was definitely lonely last year, and I’m glad it’s over. But I am confused by the grim ambiguity of what has happened since then.

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Today it is not entirely clear, at least to me, what is safe and what is unsafe. Different cities have different rules; politicians contradict each other; Republicans and Democrats are sending conflicting messages. Schools operate according to different rules. Some communities have powers; others actually prohibit mandates.

As for individuals, it seems everyone thinks his or her own approach to pandemic safety is the right one, and everyone else is either wildly reckless or needlessly scared.

I am resurrected. Two Pfizer shots, no amp. The last injection was given six months ago. I am 62 years old. So can you eat with other people? With my mask? In a crowded restaurant? Some of my friends know; others don’t.

Should I be worried if the guy next to me on the plane isn’t wearing a mask? I was really worried when this happened to me, but when I wrote about it, many people claimed that I was overreacting hysterically.

Can I hug my friends or shake hands with them when I meet them on the street? These days, sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t, depending on, well, really, nothing. Maybe I should first demand to show their vaccination cards!

According to the Los Angeles County Department of Health, I feel protected from my own vaccinations, but only up to a point. This is a small fraction of the total (unvaccinated people are almost seven times more likely to get infected and 23 times more likely to be hospitalized), but it’s enough to keep me on my toes.

Maybe I should sit back and enjoy Fauci-style Halloween, since I’m vaccinated. But my instinct tells me that vaccine or not, it is wrong to come face-to-face at foot distance with 500 or 1000 children in one evening – most of them are not vaccinated because they are under 12 years old. This is not just wrong. for me; for them it is also wrong.

Frankenstein masks and Incredible Hulk masks won’t protect either of us.

At the end of the day, I believe the only real rule is: figure it out for yourself. Do not be stupid, only take prudent risks and protect yourself as best you can by allowing yourself a little indulgence.

But on Halloween I have to either open the doors or keep them closed. And I’m not sure which one yet.

Nicholas Goldberg is a junior columnist for the Los Angeles Times editor. © 2021 Los Angeles Times. Distributed by the Tribune content agency.

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