Salem, Massachusetts Scales Back Its Famed Halloween Festivities Due to COVID-19

The city, which has around 40,000 residents, said it typically welcomes about 12 times that for Halloween.

With Halloween approaching, the city of Salem in Massachusetts, known for its famed spooky festivities, is making plans for a scaled-back version of its normally (and hauntingly) epic events as COVID-19 continues to spread.

The city, which has around 40,000 residents, said it typically welcomes about 12 times that for the October holiday, capitalizing on its witch trial history and all things magic.

Now, with Massachusetts recording more than 114,700 confirmed cases of the virus and with restrictions on both group sizes and which states tourists are allowed to come from without quarantining, the city has taken a pared-down approach to its Salem Haunted Happenings programming.

“Many people inside and outside of Salem will be disappointed that their favorite, fun and festive October activities cannot take place this year,” the city’s mayor, Kim Driscoll, said in a statement. “However, as a community we are committed to doing our part to help protect residents, visitors, and staff and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Salem."

Salem, Mass. in 2019
Costumed visitors celebrating Halloween in Salem, Mass. in 2019. JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images

While some big events like the Haunted Happenings Grand Parade, the Salem Food Truck Festival, and the Great Salem Pumpkin Walk have been canceled, others are still on deck. Get a glimpse into your future at the Salem Psychic Fair & Witches’ Market or hop on board the Salem Spirits Trolley to spend time with some different kinds of spirits.

“There is no doubt this circumstance will have an impact on the many small businesses - including museums, restaurants, shops, attractions, vendors, service industry staff, and other partners that rely heavily on the increased business that October attracts,” Driscoll added. “We will strive to explore options to provide Haunted Happenings experiences that comply with state guidelines and encourage creatives and entrepreneurs in our community to do the same.”

Currently, Massachusetts is in Phase 3 of its reopening plan, which it entered on July 6, which generally restricts gatherings to no more than 25 people indoors and 100 people outdoors. The state requires masks to be worn in public places when social distancing is not possible and requires most out-of-state travelers to quarantine upon arrival for 14 days or show a negative COVID-19 test.

Salem isn’t alone in canceling some Halloween events in the midst of the pandemic. Universal, which opened its Orland parks in June, made the decision to cancel its famed Halloween Horror Nights at both the Florida and California parks.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she’s not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram @alisonwrites.

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