SALEM, MA — What is traditionally one of the busiest weekends of the year in Downtown Salem — short of Halloween weekend itself — is a time to plan ahead thoroughly for anyone thinking of making the trip to the heart of the holiday’s unofficial hometown.
With all major public events canceled, and most museums and restaurants selling out for the day early on weekends, Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll this week urged potential visitors who do not already have lodging, attraction tickets and restaurant reservations booked to consider not coming downtown this Halloween season.
Those who do have plans in place, or are thinking of heading to the city anyway, can expect a number of restrictions related to the coronavirus health crisis.
“Visitors who are still planning to come to Salem this October are required to abide by the mandatory mask requirement while downtown, as well as within stores, attractions, and while moving around within restaurants,” the Salem Board of Health said. “City health inspectors, public safety teams, and downtown ambassadors are working together to track, enforce, and remind visitors of the mask order, which is an important measure intended to prevent the spread of the virus.”
The city has canceled all parades, balls, indoor and outdoor parties, as well as prohibited street performances and outside vendors this year.
The Salem Board of Health last week issued an order keeping Salem in step one of phase three of the state’s reopening — meaning restaurant table party sizes remain limited to six and public outdoor gatherings remain limited to 25.
There is a limit of five parties waiting in line at restaurant and those parties must be spaced at least 6 feet apart.
“She has a very particular set of circumstances, which is called Halloween,” Gov. Charlie Baker said at a news conference held alongside Driscoll in Salem Tuesday. “She’s playing a very different hand than some others are playing and I don’t blame her for not going forward.”
Those headed downtown are encouraged to check the city’s new “Downtown Crowd Gauge” — and strongly think about other plans if the gauge is nearing the red “overcrowded” range.
The gauge will be updated throughout the weekend from Friday through Monday — which this year for the first time is being recognized as both Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples Day in the city.
There are a series of events and activities in honor of Indigenous Peoples Day scheduled.
Salem police will temporarily close roads and walkways if they are determined to be overcrowded and unsuitable for social distancing.
The Salem Board of Health has issued a local travel reporting requirement for visitors traveling from out of state. Anyone staying overnight at a hotel, inn or short-term rental must complete the form which can be found here. City health inspectors will be following up with visitors directly via
phone and email regarding compliance with state travel restrictions.
Most neighborhoods in and around the downtown are restricted to resident-only parking. Visitors should park in municipal lots if spots are available. Cars parked in residential spots without a permit will be ticketed or towed.
The city said tickets were issued to more than 115 vehicles this past weekend for parking in resident-only zones.
As of noon on Saturday, public parking was already full and Church Street was closed to traffic.
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This article originally appeared on the Salem Patch