CALDWELL, Idaho — Seasonal businesses, such as haunted houses, have struggled to come up with ways to keep their doors open during the COVID-19 pandemic.
One local haunted house was willing to go the extra mile to help visitors get in the Halloween spirit this year. After getting a 16-page safety and contingency plan approved by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Requiem Haunted House in Caldwell was able to open for the season.
However, the process was not easy.
“We had props already ordered, things on the way and I just looked at my husband and said, 'We've got to do this, we've got to figure out a way to open up,'” Requiem owner Krista Woods said. “We sat down, my husband and I sat down many times going, 'Is it even worth doing it?' I mean it’s a lot of [personal protective equipment] that we had to buy, I mean we have hand sanitizer on every staircase."
Groups will be limited to a maximum of six people and a minimum of two people. When waiting in line, groups must be 12 feet apart. While going through the haunted house, groups must stay six feet away from other groups.
In addition to distancing precautions, each person must sign a COVID-19 liability waiver before entering the house.
The actors get their temperatures checked every day before work and are required to keep six feet from guests.
“It’s really hard to stop to remind themselves to not get up into their faces, I have a couple of actors that are high-risk and will literally stay six feet away from you completely,” Wood said. “We’ve trained since August working on this. That’s the hardest part is the scaring, I would have to say."
Guests will also be given gloves before entering the maze just so they can keep that sense of touch, as there is a room that is entirely blacked out and requires people to touch the walls to make their way through.
“Imagine when you’re in a haunted house, a lot of stuff hangs in your face, we didn’t want to take that away, we didn’t want to take away pushing your way through things, so we said gloves,” Wood said.
A group of professional cleaners will be sanitizing all of the rooms and hallways periodically after each timed group. The famous coffin ride will not be present at the haunted house this year because spraying it down with disinfectant after each minute long-ride was too great a risk.
Even though guests will miss the ride, Wood said she's just happy she was able to open her doors this year.
“This year we really don’t care about the money, we want to make sure that people have some sort of normalcy, some fun to give them some sort of escape from what’s going on right now,” she said.
Visit the Requiem Haunted House website to purchase tickets online and print out the COVID-19 liability waiver.
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