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SFPD Increasing Patrols to Enforce Ban on Halloween Parties

All indoor parties or outdoor gatherings of more than 12 people are a violation of state and local health codes

Trick-or-treating scenes (like this one from Noe Valley, in 2016) won’t be seen in San Francisco this year.
Carlos Avila Gonzalez/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

For over a month, San Francisco officials have warned against most traditional Halloween celebrations, saying that activities like parties and trick-or-treating present COVID-19 infection risks. Now the San Francisco Police Department is adding emphasis to that warning, reminding residents that most parties and gatherings are against the law — and saying that they’re adding extra staff to ensure all state and local health orders are followed.

In early October, San Francisco’s Department of Emergency Management officially released its “Safer Halloween Guidance,” a set of rules intended to help residents observe the spooky holiday without fears of coronavirus. “Trick-or-treating is strongly discouraged because the sharing of food, candy, and items is risky,” the agency says, as “it can also be difficult to maintain a distance of 6 feet and have consistent use of face covering when many households gather on the street.”

Late last week, the SFPD released its own guidance for the Halloween weekend, saying via press release that “there will be no official city sponsored Halloween events,” and that “we expect that everyone adheres to the city’s guidelines to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

To that end, the SFPD says that it will “add extra patrols” and “will have sufficient staffing to all of its ten Police Districts” on Saturday, October 31. Those extra officers will be deployed to shut down any illicit Halloween shenanigans, as they would any other year — but as this is 2020, police will also be on the lookout for:

  • Gatherings of more than 12 persons, either indoors or outdoors. Note: Gatherings with more than 12 people are okay if all of those individuals live with you.
  • Indoor Halloween gatherings, celebrations, events, or parties with non-household members
  • Haunted houses, carnivals, festivals, and live entertainment attractions

As all of these activities “present an elevated risk for the transmission of COVID-19 and are prohibited by local or state public health orders,” they will be shut down, the SFPD says. Folks who want to report scofflaws are urged not to call 911, however, as that’s for actual emergencies. Instead, please call SFPD’s non-emergency number at 415-553-0123.