Salem’s pandemic Halloween is smaller, still busy

Salem’s pandemic Halloween is smaller, still busy

SALEM, Mass. — Tourists who have been warned to stay away from Salem this Halloween came anyway, albeit in smaller numbers than in normal years. The coronavirus pandemic resulting in restrictions on public transportation, parking and mandated businesses close by 8 p.m.

“We actually didn’t know that Salem was shut down,” said Natalie Roca of New York.

Outdoor activities for Halloween were canceled during the summer, and Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll has been vocal about asking visitors to skip the trip this year, as has Mass. Governor Charlie Baker.

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Restaurants, coffee shops, retailers, museums and tours were all open and operating midday, many with lines of people waiting outside for social distancing.

“[There are] more people than I was expecting but everyone seems to be respecting everything that’s going on,” said Peter Pesano, also visiting from New York.

Jacob Hubert, a graduate student at Endicott College, said soaking up Halloween spirit is important in a year that has been rough on so many people.

Salem Police and state troopers could be seen patrolling downtown.

“We just decided to come this weekend because, of course, it’s Halloween,” said Gretchen Wills of Missouri.

Wills said their family is from a small town where many are not wearing masks in public places such as grocery stores. She went on to say her family underwent COVID-19 testing and filled out the necessary state forms required for visitors and were determined to enjoy vacation time in Salem.

“You can’t quit living, you can’t just shut down your life,” Wills said.

In the state’s COVID-19 community level map, Salem is in the “yellow” with an average daily incidents rate of 7.1, just under the threshold of eight, which would put the city in the high-risk category.

One business owner who did not wish to go on-camera or give their name said many customers are afraid to come to their shop out of concern of catching COVID-19 because of the scores of visitors. Another business manager said crowds have been smaller, but customers are less respectful of social distancing and capacity rules.

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