At the first sign of fall in New England, hundreds of thousands of people grab their witch hat and head to Salem to get into the spirit of Halloween. In any other year, Salem welcomes anxious visitors with open arms, but this year, visitors are being asked to stay home.

At the end of August, events were beginning to show up as canceled on the official website, but as of a few days ago, Mayor Kim Driscoll is putting her foot down and asking tourists to reschedule their plans.

In a press conference, she explained that the small town is seeing more foot traffic than they would like. Businesses are reaching capacity, “and that’s typically a good thing,” she said, “but it’s creating congestion and lines outside of businesses where we see people waiting for long periods of time and not maintaining physical distancing.”

As she reflected on the status of Phase 3 in Massachusetts, she stated, “this is not the year to come to Salem. This is not the banner year for visits.”

Driscoll is increasing restrictions by limiting access to the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall, eliminating one entrance point on the West End to the Peabody Essex Museum, and will be installing barriers to limit the forming of lines.

“Salem will be here after October,” the mayor said. She is requesting that trips be put off until after October and concluded her announcement by saying the town can expect an early shutdown on Halloween night.

Halloween lands on a Saturday night this year with a full moon in the sky, painting the perfect scenario for a night of fright, but the scariest part is the fact that residents and tourists will not be able to celebrate like they normally would in Salem.

Mayor Driscoll and Governor Charlie Baker held a conference today to further explain the limitations for Halloween in Salem and the people planning to visit: