Boston, Salem mayors announce Halloween guidelines


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In Salem, even the dogs would take part in Halloween festivities. Now, the city is gearing up for the spooky holiday’s return.

Erin Fine, news correspondent

After Halloween festivities were largely put on hold in 2020, acting Mayor Kim Janey’s office encouraged Bostonians to “enjoy the fun tricks and treats of Halloween, while taking precautions to stay safe,” in a press release Oct. 21.

While Halloween parties and bar crawls were suspended last fall, Janey encouraged celebrations — with masks and social distancing. The mayor’s office promoted vaccinations for all event goers, including instructions on how to host a vaccine clinic at gatherings. For trick-or-treaters, the mayor’s office suggested going in small groups and handing out separately wrapped goodie bags.

“We are thrilled that vaccination rates in Boston are high but remember that children under 12 still can’t be vaccinated against COVID-19 and some neighborhoods of Boston have much lower vaccination rates than the overall Boston rate,” said Dr. Jennifer Lo, medical director of the Boston Public Health Commission.

Salem, one of Massachusetts’s most famous Halloween destinations for locals and visitors alike, has largely reopened after the city highly discouraged visitors in 2020. 

“Since we know more about the virus now than we did last fall, and we obviously have vaccination levels up now where it wasn’t even available last October, we’re hopeful that the measures taken this year can allow Haunting Happenings to take place in the manner in which people have come to enjoy it, with these safety precautions in place,” said Dominick Pangallo, chief of staff at the office of Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, in a statement to The News.

Salem is deploying several COVID-19 safety measures including an indoor mask requirement and a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of attending gatherings of over 100 people. The city has also extended hours at two free rapid COVID-19 testing centers.

With safety measures in place, the Salem mayor’s office is hopeful for a festive and profitable Halloween season.

“People definitely seem excited by this year’s celebrations,” Pangallo said. “Restaurants, attractions and shops are reporting record sales, even compared to pre-pandemic Octobers, all our hotels were booked up months ago, and our parking fills up quickly each morning.”

At Northeastern, the Resident Student Association, or RSA, is gearing up for the return of Halloween festivities.

“Last year, there were less Halloween activities, so people are excited to get back into it,” said Felix Moisand, RSA vice president for operations. “They’re looking for creative ways to enjoy the holiday.”

One event Moisand said he is looking forward to is a ghost tour, in which students walk through downtown Boston’s center, listening to tales of ghosts and historical accounts of the city’s persecution of witches. Students can get more information about the tours from their hall councils, Moisand said.

For those on campus, the RSA is hosting its annual Pumpkin Palooza: a fall event with a variety of Halloween activities. In addition, the RSA’s 24-hour annual Husky Hunt has been revamped into the Halloween-themed Husky Haunt.

Whether exploring Boston, attending COVID-19 safe events or engaging in festivities on campus, Northeastern students have a Halloween season full of options.

“It’s just a terrific time to take in all the sights and scenes in our community,” Driscoll said, in a Boston Public Radio interview.