With 2020 being a year like no other due to a global pandemic, one question has made its way into every conversation: What is the COVID-19 mitigation plan?
And Halloween — an evening of masks, candy corn, and spooky spiders — is no exception.
With 32 cases of COVID-19 detected in Gloucester — a jump from 24 the day prior — city leaders and members of the Gloucester Police Department discussed Tuesday night what would need to be done in order for the department's Community Impact Unit to host a Halloween Walk-Thru event to encourage kids to get outside and celebrate the season.
"It is scary," Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken said in reference to the uptick in cases within the city, noting that the number of cases may increase as city-wide COVID-19 testing is implemented this week.
"It is going to jump," she added.
The event, which was approved by City Council on Tuesday night, will take place Oct. 29 from 2 to 4 p.m. on Main Street between Bank Gloucester and Tonno Restaurant with many protocols in place to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Lt. Jeremiah Nicastro said to lessen the risk from COVID-19, children will need to maintain social distancing, each sidewalk would be one-way, and masks would be required.
Other safety precautions that have been put in place will prohibit children from entering stores, candy will be distributed on a table for children to collect, and safety flyers will be hung in the surrounding area.
"I really appreciate the drive of Lieutenant Nicastro and Community Impact Unit and Mayor's Office to give the children of this community something to look forward to," Councilor Jen Holmgren said.
In addition to safety plans to combat COVID-19, police will be closing Main Street to vehicles at noon on Oct. 29 in order to prepare for the event and keep trick-or-treaters safe.
"Two hours give us enough time to safely close the roads and for cars to leave Main Street," Nicastro said. "It is enough time to clear the roads in a safe manner before kids arrive."
Nicastro made sure to note on Tuesday night that multiple stores on Main Street had reached out to the Community Impact Unit to encourage it to host an event like this.
"I think it is going to be a wonderful event," Councilor Sean Nolan said.
An amendment was made on Tuesday night that notes that the event may be canceled up to 48 hours in advance of and/or on the day of the event.
"If it gets canceled, at least we tried," Councilor John McCarthy said. "We have just to keep swinging and try to have events like this."
Taylor Ann Bradford can be reached at 978-675-2705 or email@example.com.