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SLO County health officials deem haunted houses "high-risk," some still operating

Posted at 7:19 PM, Oct 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-12 03:28:20-04

Some haunted house attractions on the Central Coast are ready to spook anyone who enters, but public health officials warn not to go.

On Wednesday, Health officer Dr. Penny Borenstein with the San Luis Obispo County Health Department reminded community members to avoid Halloween gatherings this year, calling them "high-risk' places.

“Indoor or outdoor haunted houses tend to be a tradition around Halloween and we’re requesting, not requesting, simply telling the community to please not do those things this year," Dr. Borenstein said.

Public health officials released the following statement on Oct. 2:

Highest risk activities and those that are not permitted include carnivals or festivals, live entertainment (including live music), indoor and outdoor haunted house attractions where people are gathered close and screaming, and in-person parties or gatherings (including outdoor social gatherings) with people not part of your small social bubble.

Despite this guidance, creative directors of 'The Haunt' in Atascadero are keeping their doors open and operating their haunted house.

Owner Chris Towers said he feels the proper safety protocols are in place.

“We’re doing everything that we can to stay safe and to keep both our actors and the guests safe with this COVID thing, so it goes both ways. We need the guests to participate and to work with us just as much as we’re trying to work with them," Towers said.

Changes were made to Tower's popular attraction to allow for social distancing.

“A little nervous, but we’re not going to touch anything," said Alison Edwards, an Atascadero resident.

Towers added that he's taking the same precautions as other businesses including using hand-sanitizer, conducting temperature checks at the doors, and requiring guests to wear masks.

The haunted house is also offering optional gloves for guests and reducing interactions between staff and customers.

Parties will be limited to four people at a time and tickets can be purchased online to monitor the number of visitors.

KSBY News attempted to contact other owners of Halloween-type attractions, but none of them wanted to speak on-camera.

The SLO County Public Health Department has not yet released information regarding the closures, if any, of haunted houses that are currently in operation.

For more information on the county's guidance for a safer Halloween during the pandemic, click here.