PESHTIGO — The City of Peshtigo voted Tuesday to continue with its plan to host trick-or-treating this Halloween.
City Attorney David Spangenberg read a letter at the Common Council meeting from Mayor Cathi Malke urging the council to cancel trick-or-treating this year. Malke said having contracted COVID-19 herself, she wants the city to do everything in its power to prevent it from spreading further and to protect the residents of the City of Peshtigo from the virus.
Malke was not present at the meeting, as she has been away from her office recovering from COVID-19.
Despite the mayor's request, several alderpersons said the responsibility to take precautions against COVID-19 and remain safe is with the residents of Peshtigo, not the city.
Alderperson Archer Leupp said the City of Peshtigo should leave the decision to host trick-or-treating, or not, up to individual residents. Anyone who does not wish to participate can simply not turn on their porch light, he said.
"We can encourage wearing masks and using hand sanitizers but ultimately it's the residents' responsibility to make this decision," Alderperson John Berendt said.
However, Spangenberg suggested that if schools closed before Oct. 31, then the city council can reconsider its decision.
Alderperson Bridget Schmidtt agreed with Spangenberg and said, if needed, she would be willing to reconvene in a special meeting at a later date to address changes in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alderperson Richard Berth III said even if the Peshtigo School District did close schools because of an outbreak of the virus, it doesn't necessarily need to affect the city's trick-or-treating.
"If they close schools, it's likely because the teachers are getting COVID-19, not the students," he said. "They're closing the school because there aren't enough teachers."
He argued that even in the case of a school shut down or closure, Halloween trick-or-treating should not be canceled because the teachers would not be involved and the responsibility to not participate if you're sick still lies with residents.
One difference between trick-or-treating and other events that have been canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak is the fact that trick-or-treating is conducted outside. Luepp said most guidelines advise against being in large groups indoors, but trick-or-treaters will be outside, in small groups.
"They won't be coupled up inside, they will be outside with fresh air," he added.
The CDC provides guidelines on how municipalities and households can safely host trick-or-treating during the pandemic, and Director of Public Works George Cowell spoke up at the meeting to stress the importance of these guidelines.
He asked that the city council members look into these guidelines and utilize them to the best of their ability.