October 2020 COVID graphic

FAQs for October Weekends 2020

With everyone’s safety at top of mind, the City of Salem has issued new protocols designed to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community during the last two weekends of October. With limited access to parking, Commuter Rail service, and earlier business closures, combined with reduced capacity for all of our businesses, there is unfortunately not enough to do on weekends, and visitors who do not plan ahead are being met with long lines and overcrowding. Because of this, we advise you to postpone your trip to November, to 2021, or reschedule for a weekday visit.

Expanded safety protocols by the City of Salem for October 23, 24, 25, 30, 31, and November 1, include closing entry to City parking lots and garages beginning at 12 pm, making meters inaccessible, limiting or restricting MBTA Commuter Rail access to Salem, and recommended and mandatory business closures at 8 pm. If you are planning your visit during these dates, please review the new protocols listed here before continuing to our FAQs:


I do not have tickets or reservations but am coming to Salem to walk around this weekend or Halloween weekend. Is this allowed?

No. If you do not have reservations, please plan your visit midweek, in 2021, or at least after October. The City of Salem and Board of Health are working hard to keep residents, workers, and visitors to Salem safe, and in doing so we need to limit crowding downtown that has the potential to be unsafe due to the pandemic.

If you have made reservations for things to do (museums and attractions, walking tours, restaurants, and shops) or are staying overnight in Salem, please keep your plans and enjoy your visit. If you do not already have plans however these weekends are not the time for a spontaneous visit, and we’d love to welcome you downtown during the week or after Halloween.

I’m coming from [insert state here] for my annual [insert celebration here] trip that I’ve been waiting for [insert # of months here], and I’ve done the museums and just want to be in Salem this weekend. I will wear my mask and follow the rules. Can I still come?

We really appreciate your love of and enthusiasm for Salem, and as a result we hope that you’ll consider the safety of our downtown residents and workers and plan your trip for a weekday or after Halloween. We understand that this year has been incredibly difficult for everyone, and a visit to your favorite place might be what’s needed most right now, but we ask that you follow the guidelines by the City of Salem and our Board of Health and visit us when Salem becomes a “ghost town” after Halloween.

But I want to be in Salem on Halloween. Thanks for the info, but I’m still going to come.

All Halloween and Haunted Happenings events were cancelled in August. If you come to Salem on Halloween with no plans or reservations, you’ll find you won’t have enough to do, and with the pandemic 2020 just isn’t the year to come downtown and people watch. Without annual events, the experience you could have on Halloween will be no different than a visit during the first week of November, so please plan to come downtown after the 31st.

This Halloween, there are no music stages, beer gardens, or fireworks and Salem Police will begin clearing the streets downtown at 8:00 pm. If you have spent Halloween with us before, you’ve seen how the City clears the streets after the fireworks- This year the same clearing will take place (minus the fireworks).

Do I need to move my car out of downtown parking garages and lots if they are closing at noon and 2 pm?

No, you need to be parked before noon or 2 pm (depending on the date of your visit), but you do not need to be out of the garage or lot by then. When parking areas close, only entry access will close, you will still be able to leave after those hours. View complete protocols for the last two October weekends here.

I will not be arriving in Salem until after 12 pm. Where should I park?

Parking will not be available in downtown Salem after 12 pm on October 24, 25, 30, and 31, and November 1, (and after 2 pm on October 23). If you do not have reservations or tickets for things to do in Salem, please plan your visit outside of these dates. If you do have reservations, you would need to arrive downtown prior to noon to secure parking (and potentially earlier as parking during October weekends often fills up earlier). If you are unable to park, we recommend taking an Uber/Lyft/taxi.

If the train isn’t stopping in Salem…and the Salem Ferry isn’t running…how should I get to Salem from Boston this weekend?

If you have tickets or reservations in Salem this weekend, take the MBTA Commuter Rail to a nearby station (Lynn and Beverly are the closest) and order an Uber/Lyft/taxi from there to get downtown. If you do not have tickets or reservations, postpone your visit to a weekday or after Halloween when the train will be running under its normal schedule.

What if I have reservations after 8 pm?

If you have reservations after 8 pm for October 23 and 24, contact the businesses to see what their policy is. This weekend’s closure is recommended, not mandatory, so it is up to the individual business to decide if they will be open or not. If you have reservations for after 8 pm on October 30 or 31, those will be cancelled as businesses are required to close at 8. In either case, please reach out to individual businesses for more information on how to proceed.

My travel is nonrefundable and I am coming to Massachusetts whether there are things to do in Salem or not. I don’t have reservations for the weekend, but will be in the area anyway. What should I do?

Visit northofboston.org or check this blog post to find ideas for things to do around the region or visit bostonusa.com for information on visiting Boston.

I’m here! But it’s crowded….Where can I go to get away from the crowds?

If you are hoping to stay in Salem, check this post for ideas on how to break from the crowds this October. If you are not spending the rest of the day in Salem, visit northofboston.org to find things to do in neighboring towns. You can also download the Salem app to receive notifications when attractions sell out, parking fills up, and more to best plan your day around the crowds.

What about trick or treating?

Trick-or-treating is not a City event. The decision to trick-or-treat is one that individual families should make on their own. Those who choose to engage in trick-or-treating should comply with the public health guidance issued by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health: www.mass.gov/news/halloween-during-covid-19. If trick-or-treating, families should not congregate with other family groups, should keep a face covering on at all times, and should stay six feet away from others. Anyone choosing to trick-or-treat should do so between 5:30 and 7:30 pm. Those giving out candy should leave it outside for trick-or-treaters to take and only in individual, not communal, receptacles. Residents who do not wish to give out candy can indicate that by keeping their outside light off for the evening. Residents of other communities should not trick-or-treat in Salem.

Salem Police also ask that everyone driving in Salem to recognize the increase of children walking around your neighborhoods. Children and parents should also be mindful and careful, paying attention to stay on sidewalks, use traffic signals and crosswalks, and being as “reflective” or visible as possible. This takes an entire community to work together to provide safe paths for our Trick or Treaters.

Which businesses are closed or closing early?

All businesses are required to close by 8:00 pm on October 30 and 31. Additional information is listed below:

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