October 2020 COVID graphic

Planning a Safe Halloween in Salem, Massachusetts

Discouraging travel to Salem is completely counterintuitive to the goals of Destination Salem. Recommending travel to Salem be postponed is a communication point that has never been in our repertoire. 2020 has proven to be a year fraught with challenges, and now Destination Salem, as the destination marketing organization for the City of Salem must, however, tell you that we do not anticipate your expectations will be met if you visit Salem during the final two weekends of October 2020.

For complete information released by the City of Salem, please click here.

For FAQs on this announcement, click here.

Here are the things we know: 

  • The COVID-19 pandemic is real, it is here, and Salem’s case numbers are increasing
  • Visitors continue to come to Salem, many without a plan or reservations
  • The crowding in high-traffic areas like the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall is concerning for its potential to spread the virus
  • Our museums and attractions are operating on less than 50% capacity and many are selling out in advance of peak times (Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays)
  • Our tours are operating with a capacity limit of 10, and most have sold out for the month of October
  • Restaurants and retail shops have occupancy restrictions that are causing long lines to form in high traffic areas, and visitors are waiting more than an hour in some situations to gain access to a shop or be seated at a table
  • Salem has a mask order in place in all public spaces indoors and outdoors downtown, and many of our visitors have been doing an outstanding job complying with the order.

Unfortunately, with all of our businesses operating at reduced capacity, there is not enough for visitors to do.  The visitors who are coming to Salem – some from far away – without a plan in place are finding long lines, not enough to do, and overcrowding.  Because of this, we advise you to postpone your trip to November, to 2021, or reschedule for a weekday visit.

The following changes are being put in place for the final two weekends of Halloween, which are traditionally the busiest weekends of the year in Salem:

  • Outdoor gatherings in the streets of downtown Salem are not be permitted during the day or in the evenings
  • Businesses are being asked to close at 8:00 PM on Friday, October 23 and Saturday, October 24; businesses will be required to close at 8:00 PM on Friday, October 30 and Saturday, October 31
  • All municipal parking lots and garages will be closed at 2:00 PM on Friday and 12:00 PM on Saturday and Sunday. If you have tickets or reservations for after those times, you must be in Salem and parked before garage access is restricted or you will not find parking. Salem Police and Parking departments will be ticketing and towing non-resident cars that park in resident-only zones
  • The MBTA will be reducing stops in Salem on October 24 and 31

If you have purchased tickets or made a reservation for an activity that is scheduled after 8:00 PM on either weekend, October 23-25 or October 30-November 1, please contact the business directly to determine their plans and policy.

In addition, per the Massachusetts and City of Salem reopening guidelines:

Bars are not allowed to be open. If you are in a restaurant and ordering alcoholic beverages, you are required to be seated at a table and to order food, as well. This means hanging out in bars, which has a high-risk of spreading COVID-19, is not permitted.

Indoor haunted house attractions are not permitted to open, and some Salem businesses will not be open this October (Phillips House, New England Pirate Museum, Cry Innocent, Stepping Stone Inn, and the Salem Ferry).

There is a travel order in effect both for the state of Massachusetts and the City of Salem. Visitors entering MA from most other states are required to fill out a traveler form and either quarantine for 14 days once in MA or provide a negative COVID test result taken within 72 hours of travel. The City of Salem is collecting contact information from out of state visitors who are staying in Salem overnight.

While MA has advanced to Step 2 of Phase 3 of the four-phased reopening plan, Salem will remain in Step 1 through at least mid-November. As a result, indoor gatherings are limited to 25 people and outdoor gatherings are limited to 50 people, which means all Haunted Happenings events have remained cancelled since the City’s initial announcement in August.

For additional information:

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