It’s going to take some magic to keep tourists out of Salem, Massachusetts, this Halloween.
Officials in “Witch City” are begging revelers to stay away this spooky season.
Normally, the North Shore city draws 50,000 to 60,000 tourists each weekend day leading up to the holiday, according to WBUR.
But because of the coronavirus pandemic, the mayor is shooing visitors away on their broomsticks.
“We’re concerned with warm weather and this wanderlust that we’re seeing with folks who just want to get out, that we’re gonna have lots of people flocking to Salem for the typical Halloween events that will not be happening, they’ve all been canceled,” Mayor Kim Driscoll said in a press conference Wednesday.
She implored tourists to stay back.
“This is not the year to come to Salem, this is not the year to visit,” she said. “All Halloween activities have been canceled this year. There’ll be no music stages, no street performers, no beer gardens, no DJs and no fireworks, and, we hope, no crowds.”
Normally, street festivals take place leading up to the holiday. Tourists flock to the town, haunted by the historic Salem witch trials, to peruse the many occult-centric shops and visit witch trial-themed museums.
The quirky seaside city has captivated authors and filmmakers alike. It’s served as the 17th-century setting of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” and the modern-day backdrop for Halloween movies such as “Hocus Pocus” and Adam Sandler’s “Hubie Halloween.”
Like several Massachusetts towns in the late 1600s, Salem was plagued by witch trials. Twenty-five suspected witches were killed there, according to the Boston Globe.
To combat the flood of Halloween visitors, downtown businesses have been asked to close at 8 p.m. during “Halloween Jr.” weekend, October 23 and 24, which often draws the same, if not more tourists than on Halloween weekend. During the official holiday weekend, the early close will be mandated. Parking garages in the city have been required to close early in the afternoon, too.
The Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority, which runs trains in and out of Salem and Boston, will change its schedule to bypass the spooky city.
“I really feel like the fun police here, right?” said Driscoll. “We’re . . . really telling folks, ‘This isn’t the year to come. Put it off until another time period and certainly do not come without a plan at all.’ [It’s] unprecedented for us, and I think it speaks to the times.”
Although Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said that townies have been practicing “exceptional mask compliance” in Salem, social distancing will not be possible with large crowds. “A typical Halloween weekend in Salem is not manageable,” he said.
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