The city of Salem, Massachusetts, has released details for when its free walk-up rapid COVID testing center downtown will be open through the Halloween season.
People going to large indoor Halloween events in the Witch City will have to test negative for the coronavirus, its board of health recently decided, in a bid to prevent the virus' spread on top of the indoor mask mandate.
The rapid testing site, in the Peabody Essex Museum's Connect Building at 135 Essex Street, will open Wednesdays-Saturdays from noon to 8 p.m. starting Sept. 30 and running through Oct. 29. On Saturday, Oct. 30, the site will move into the musem's group entrance on Essex Street, and, on Halloween itself, the site will be open from noon to 5 p.m., the city announced Friday.
Test results are expected back within one or two hours.
Visitors are strongly encouraged to preregister at salem.com/testing, though it's not required -- registration will begin this Monday, and will allow people to select a time window for their appointment, to which would prevent them from standing in longer lines for walk-ups.
The city noted it has other free COVID testing sites, including "Stop the Spread" PCR testing sites in St. Peter's Church and at Salem High School.
"This new testing site will help us support our event operators and ensure the safety of event guests, employees and volunteers at venues, their families, and our community at large," Mayor Kim Driscoll said in a statement.
The Board of Health voted Friday to require anyone attending indoor festivities where there are more than 100 people, regardless of vaccine status, to provide a negative test within 72 hours of the event they're attending. The policy will be in effect from Oct. 1 through Nov. 1.
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Hundreds of thousands of people visit Salem each year for Halloween parades, haunted houses and parties -- which had to be dramatically scaled back last year amid the pandemic. Driscoll has emphasized that the city's indoor mask mandate won't help stop COVID transmission while people are eating and drinking for a long duration.
Many residents have said they feel safer knowing there are extra efforts to detect COVID cases before they spread.
The new rapid testing site will be run by Curative, which managed some Massachusetts mass vaccination sites earlier this year, and staff will be hired from the Salem area, the city said.