The Witch City needs a timeout from Halloween, the mayor of Salem said today.
“We’re seeing more people gathering than we’d like,” said Kim Driscoll at a Friday press conference that is just now wrapping up. “We can’t allow the sorts of crowds we’re seeing.”
Salem, famous for its 1692 witch trials, is a go-to spot for all things Halloween — but the coronavirus has Driscoll asking that visitors come back next year.
“Put it off,” she said, “come next October.”
She added Halloween falls on a Saturday this year — along with a full moon — and packing the center of Salem is just asking for trouble.
She spoke of “early shutdowns, curtailing trains” and more steps to come before Halloween Oct. 31 arrives and it’s too late to keep people away. The usual fun Salem is famous for must be put on the shelf. “None of that can happen,” Driscoll added.
Salem is a “yellow” city — as rated by the state Department of Public Health — where the spread of COVID-19 is bad but not the worst. “Red” zones are where the DPH says the spread of the virus is most worrisome.
Salem acting Police Chief Dennis King said people holding private parties around Halloween are going to be asked to “break it up” and face a fine of up to $500 if they don’t comply.
“So far, we’ve had no non-compliance,” King said.
Salem Health Agent David Greenbaum added every lodging — from hotels to Airbnbs — are being warned they will come under contact tracing procedures if a coronavirus outbreak occurs.
As of this week, 63 cities and towns in Massachusetts are labeled “red” — a frightening designation Driscoll says she wants to keep Salem free from.
Those in the red zone this week are: Abington, Acushnet, Amherst, Attleboro, Auburn, Berkley, Boston, Brockton, Canton, Chelmsford, Chelsea, Dartmouth, East Bridgewater, East Longmeadow, Everett, Fairhaven, Fall River, Framingham, Hanover, Hanson, Haverhill, Hingham, Holbrook, Holliston, Holyoke, Hudson, Kingston, Lawrence, Leicester, Littleton, Lowell, Lynn, Malden, Marlboro, Marshfield, Methuen, Middleton, Milford, Milton, Nantucket, New Bedford, North Andover, Oxford, Pembroke, Plymouth, Randolph, Revere, Rockland, Saugus, Shrewsbury, Somerville, Southboro, Springfield, Sunderland, Tyngsboro, Wakefield, Waltham, Webster, West Newbury, Weymouth, Winthrop, Woburn and Worcester.
Avon, Dracut, Dudley and Southbridge exited the red zone.