October is underway and Halloween festivities in Salem have begun.
The month-long celebration is always a draw for visitors from around the world.
“I’ve never been here before,” said tourist Tanya Bedwell. “It's my first time, and it’s amazing.”
Last year people were told to stay away from Salem amid the coronavirus pandemic and Halloween events were canceled. All are welcome this year but there’s a key rule now in place.
Anyone attending a large indoor event like a festival or ball must show proof of a negative COVID test, taken within 72 hours, even if vaccinated.
“I think it’s good just to be safe,” said Teresa Camara of Somerville.
To make things easier for visitors, the city has set up a free, rapid testing site at the Peabody Essex Museum, which is close to most of the events.
“Making people take the test, regardless of vaccine, is pushing it a little overboard,” said Irv Morales, a visitor from New York City.
Christian Day is a Salem warlock who runs the Official Witches’ Ball, one of the many events that will require a negative COVID test for entry.
“This could be a logistical nightmare,” said Day.
Salem health officials only recently put the rule in place. It applies to larger, indoor events that draw crowds of over a hundred people.
“Just wish they had done it a little sooner,” said Day.
The new requirement led to a scramble to notify hundreds of ticket holders.
“It was a hassle to find this out last minute,” said Day. “You’re at 750 people you have to contact.”
The testing requirement will be in place all month. It does not apply to smaller venues, like a restaurant or museum.