Baker not calling a halt to Halloween

Says outdoor trick or treating tops indoor parties

GOV. CHARLIE BAKER said on Tuesday that he won’t try to stop Halloween from happening, saying it is much safer for people to engage in outdoor trick-or-treating than it is to hold parties indoors. 

“A whole bunch of people say to me, ‘Why don’t you just cancel Halloween?’ And the reason we’re not canceling Halloween is because that would have turned into thousands of indoor Halloween parties, which would have been a heck of a lot worse for public safety, and for the spread of the virus, than outdoor, organized, and supervised trick-or-treating,” said Baker at a press event in Salem with the city’s mayor, Kim Driscoll. 

Baker said his administration will put out guidelines to cities and towns for safe trick-or-treating, but noted that communities will be able to make their own call on how they want to see the holidaroll out. The governor and Driscoll both said individuals will decide on their personal level of participation; Driscoll said homeowners who don’t want to give out candy can just shut off their lights. 

The governor said he anticipates “hundreds of thousands of people” coming to Salem for Halloween-related festivities during October. “It’s like the swallows going home to Capistrano or wherever it is they go,” he saidIt’s just going to happen.”  

Baker said he believes the city can handle the influx of people. On recent personal visits to the city, Baker said, he has seen firsthand the effectiveness of mask ambassadors, residents who remind people to wear masks in the downtown area and provide masks if they are needed. 

Salem has taken a number of other steps. The city announced in August that it was shutting down street performers. Hotels have been asked to maintain logs of guests to help contact tracers. And last week the Salem Board of Health decided not to move forward in instituting Step 2 of Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan. Step 2 would have expanded the number of people who could eat indoors at each table from six to 10. 

Driscoll asked the public to plan ahead and avoid the city once restaurants and historic attractions have reached capacity, which happened this past weekend. On Saturday, the Salem Police Department announced in Facebook post that the agency was able to identify “problem areas” of overcrowding in the city with the assistance of the Massachusetts State Police’s “Air Wing” unit.  

“If you have not secured lodging or booked tickets in advance for your stay, you may want to consider saving your visit till 2021, when we hope to be recovered from this pandemic and able to enjoy our full array of unique activities and events,” Driscoll said. 

Meet the Author

Sarah Betancourt

Reporter, CommonWealth

About Sarah Betancourt

Sarah Betancourt is a long-time Latina reporter in Massachusetts. Prior to joining Commonwealth, Sarah was a breaking news reporter for The Associated Press in Boston, and a correspondent with The Boston Globe and The Guardian. She has written about immigration, incarceration, and health policy for outlets like NBC, The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and the New York Law Journal. Sarah has reported stories such as a national look at teacher shortages, how databases are used by police departments to procure information on immigrants, and uncovered the spread of an infectious disease in children at a family detention center. She has covered the State House, local and national politics, crime and general assignment.

Sarah received a 2018 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for her role in the ProPublica/NPR story, “They Got Hurt at Work and Then They Got Deported,” which explored how Florida employers and insurance companies were getting out of paying workers compensation benefits by using a state law to ensure injured undocumented workers were arrested or deported. Sarah attended Emerson College for a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Communication, and Columbia University for a fellowship and Master’s degree with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

About Sarah Betancourt

Sarah Betancourt is a long-time Latina reporter in Massachusetts. Prior to joining Commonwealth, Sarah was a breaking news reporter for The Associated Press in Boston, and a correspondent with The Boston Globe and The Guardian. She has written about immigration, incarceration, and health policy for outlets like NBC, The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and the New York Law Journal. Sarah has reported stories such as a national look at teacher shortages, how databases are used by police departments to procure information on immigrants, and uncovered the spread of an infectious disease in children at a family detention center. She has covered the State House, local and national politics, crime and general assignment.

Sarah received a 2018 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for her role in the ProPublica/NPR story, “They Got Hurt at Work and Then They Got Deported,” which explored how Florida employers and insurance companies were getting out of paying workers compensation benefits by using a state law to ensure injured undocumented workers were arrested or deported. Sarah attended Emerson College for a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Communication, and Columbia University for a fellowship and Master’s degree with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

Salem has been at the “yellow” COVID-19 alert level since August 26. There were 51 positive tests in the 14 days before September 30, the last time municipality-by-municipality numbers were updated.  

For those who do go trick or treating, Baker had some recommendations for the superheroes hitting the sidewalk. “Wear a mask. Not just a mask of Superman or Wonder Woman. Wear a real mask,” he said.