From the crisp breeze in the morning to the pops of red and yellow in the trees, Franklin County has finally welcomed fall. Although this year’s traditions and festivities are bound to look a little different due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Franklin County Health Department and Mercy Hospital Washington Chief of Staff Dr. Tom Riechers have made recommendations on how to still have fall fun while being safe.

Most anything outdoors, within reason, is probably a safe bet, according to Riechers.

“Taking advantage of our riverfront trail (in downtown Washington) by walking or cycling is a good option,” Riechers said, who added that it’s a good idea to keep a mask in your pocket in case you are unable to socially distance.

Other outdoor activities that allow for social distancing would be hunting, fishing and hiking, Riechers added.

“Visiting a local winery with your family, outside where you could social distance from other tables, would also be a fine event,” Riechers said.

The Franklin County Health Department is adhering to the CDC’s holiday celebration guidelines for celebrating Halloween, according to Franklin County Presiding Commissioner Tim Brinker.

Those guidelines have been broken down into three categories for risk assessment: low, moderate and high.

Low-risk activities are done with members of your household and could include decorating your home, doing a scavenger hunt or having a virtual Halloween costume contest. Friends or neighbors can carve jack-o’-lanterns together outside at a safe distance.

Other activities like a small-group, open-air costume parade or a socially distanced party where people are wearing masks are considered moderate risk. Some fall favorites like visiting pumpkin patches or orchards are listed as moderate-risk activities. For those, the CDC recommends using hand sanitizer, wearing masks and social distancing.

High-risk activities listed by the CDC include traditional trick-or-treating, attending trunk-or-treats, crowded costume parties, indoor haunted houses, hayrides and traveling to rural fall festivals outside your community.  

For more information on the CDC’s recommendations for holiday celebrations, visit