SALEM, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — The City of Salem has outlined several additional public safety protocols it will be taking for the weekends surrounding Halloween, in order to keep the usual crowds at bay during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At a press conference Wednesday, Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll said new measures will take effect this weekend.
While the City has seen around half the visitors it usually does in October, Mayor Driscoll said there have still been large numbers of people coming to the downtown area throughout the month.
"We're concerned ... that we're going to have lots of people flocking to Salem for the typical Halloween events that will not be happening," Mayor Driscoll said. "They have all been canceled."
Driscoll said any visitors who are still planning to come to Salem over the next two weekends should consider postponing their trip.
“Ordinarily, there is no better place to celebrate Halloween than Salem," Driscoll said. "Our first priority from the outset of this pandemic has been keeping residents, employees, and visitors healthy and safe. To help ensure we can meet that goal, we are taking action to limit the number of people who will be in Salem on Halloween and the day prior.”
No Public Events
All the usual Salem Haunted Happenings events have been canceled, which the City announced in August. There will be no music stages, no street performers, no beer gardens, no DJ's, and no fireworks over the Halloween season. As with every year, fines for illegal incidents such as noise violations, public intoxication, littering, and vandalism have been tripled for weekends in October.
Businesses Closing Early
All businesses in Salem are being asked to close by 8 p.m. on October 23rd and October 24th. An Executive Order from the local Board of Health requiring the early closures of businesses is also expected for October 30th and October 31st. Salem Police will close roads to through-traffic and pedestrians as circumstances warrant.
No Lines Allowed
To help mitigate the evening crowds that are anticipated for the traditionally busy weekend, Driscoll said no lines or waiting will be permitted on the public way after 8 p.m. on both October 23rd and 24th, and for the weekend of October 30th and October 31st. That includes retail, museums, attractions, walking tours, restaurants, and several other businesses.
Driscoll said the City has been working with the MBTA to curtail trains to Salem over the final two weekends of October. MBTA commuter rail trains outbound from Boston will not stop at Salem station on October 23rd and October 30th between 7 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. or October 24th, October 25th, and October 31st between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m.
All City and private parking garages and lots will close to entering traffic at 2 p.m. on October 23rd and at noon on October 24th, October 25th, October 30th, October 31st, and November 1st.
Salem residents with reserved parking spaces or who live downtown, and any downtown business employee with proof of employment, may enter and park in both City garages at any time at the regular parking rate and subject to available spaces. Exiting traffic will still be allowed.
The City is temporarily expanding resident parking areas to additional streets during the final two weekends of October and will be ticketing and towing illegally parked vehicles. Driscoll said hang tags and stickers will not be issued for the expanded resident parking areas, instead license plates will be run by police prior to towing in order to check the registered address of any vehicle.