NORTH BROOKFIELD, Mass. — North Brookfield’s 1st annual 4th of July celebration is now postponed.
The town’s three-member Board of Selectmen planned to defy state public health COVID-19 guidelines under the governor’s political expression protections. Plus they say they didn’t have enough cases for concern.
“On July 4 there will be five active cases in the 10 towns surrounding North Brookfield,” Selectmen Chairman Daley Kiley said at a board meeting Tuesday. “That’s why we thought it’s a relatively low risk.”
The trio even unanimously voted back in May to direct town police not to enforce Gov. Baker’s pandemic orders.
"It's our hope that most folks don't do the big large 4th of July gatherings and for the most part across the Commonwealth, they're not," said Gov. Baker. "And those are obviously in violation of many of our gathering rules. And I would hope that North Brookfield would take the same position."
Organizers say the event was going to be limited to just North Brookfield residents and they expected less than 250 people taking up 4.2 acres in the town common but they didn’t predict the word would get out.
"We have been talking about it with just the town," said Kiley.
The Board of Selectmen felt the public health risk would’ve been less than what we have seen in recent protests or on the beach. Now they’re blaming the Board of Health for sending out complaints which helped to spread the word.
“Protests and marches are freedoms of speech,” said Ethan Melad of the Board of Health. “This event is being promoted as a festival which goes against the guidelines that prohibit this from happening.
“If you let the local towns determine the risk, it’s a low risk,” said Kiley. “Now that it is out and people will be coming from all over the state that risk is now expanded exponentially.”
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