Mayor of Halloween Hotspot Salem, Mass., Urges Public to Stay Away This Year amid COVID
The Mayor of Salem, Mass., home of the famous 1692 witch trials, is urging the public to stay away from the city this October amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Mayor Kim Driscoll told reporters Friday that even though the city has canceled much of its October programming — which draws in tens of thousands of visitors to the historic city each year around Halloween — people are still flocking to the city, according to the Associated Press.
"If you're not in Salem yet and are thinking about coming, my advice to you is to skip it," Driscoll said. "Skip it until after October. We still can't allow the sorts of crowds that are gathering here to continue."
According to Driscoll, the city is currently in the moderate risk category for COVID-19 spread, and the mayor does not want to see it move into the high-risk category of spread.
She and other city officials have already put a number of restrictions and safety guidelines in place for current visitors, including limited capacity in businesses and public gatherings, as well as restricting access to a major pedestrian mall and putting up barricades to limit entry lines.
As of Thursday, Oct. 15, there have been 882 Salem residents who have tested positive for COVID-19, of which 208 cases are currently active, per the city's website. A total of 43 Salem residents have died from the virus.
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Kate Fox, executive director of Destination Salem, told USA Today that the city usually sees more than half a million visitors during the month of October, which is about 30 percent of Salem's total annual tourists.
Its Halloween popularity stems from the city's dark history of witch trials in the late 1600s when 20 people were executed after being accused of witchcraft.