Haunted houses open and selling out amid pandemic despite Illinois ban

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — As we near closer to Halloween, this year will be extra spooky as the world continues to face the coronavirus pandemic, and Illinois health officials have released guidelines for the holiday to keep people safe.

Among the Halloween guidelines, state officials state that haunted houses currently are not allowed in Restore Illinois Phase 4 guidelines.

“The problem is with indoor haunted houses, which tend to be very enclosed; not a lot of open space, and as a result, the viral load can get high very quickly,” Governor Pritzker said Wednesday.

But as CBS 2 reported, some have opened this year and are even selling out nightly. The owners of the haunted houses said they believe they should be able to stay open, because they got clearance to open by local governments.

The Dungeon of Doom in Zion has been open and operating, after planning a COVID-19-safe debut for months. They require masks or face shields on actors, and have a new ticketing system that allows for social distancing with time slots to separate groups. They also have plastic barriers.

In Aurora, Mayor Irvin recently promoted the haunted house, Basement of the Dead, which has also said they are taking COVID-19 safety precautions.

“We train our actors to still be this creepy character, but to also keep their distance,” Basement of the Dead owner Jason Seneker said.

CBS 2 emailed the Illinois Department of Public Health for clarification about why haunted houses are not safe. A representative replied saying, “People are prone to screaming while going through a haunted house, which can facilitate the spread of the virus.”

The Halloween guidelines released by IDPH say that instead people should consider open-air, one-way haunted forests or haunted walks where 6-feet of distance can be maintained and face coverings are used.

“I encourage people to accept the situation, but try to be creative this holiday season,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.

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