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City Officials Vow To Shut Down Unsanctioned Events In Springfield

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno

Citing the pandemic, officials in the largest city in western Massachusetts have announced a crackdown on unsanctioned events. 

Events where food will be sold on public property are being promoted on social media despite not having proper permits from the city of Springfield.

" I am giving you fair warning here," Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said sternly. "Unsanctioned? Don't do it or you're going to be shut down."

He said the city would enforce the permit requirement with cease and desist orders, fines, and if necessary, the police.

" We are not trying to be difficult. We are trying to do what's right and trying to be respectful," said Sarno.

Recently, local health officials in Massachusetts and elsewhere have traced COVID-19 outbreaks back to large parties. 

During his weekly COVID-19 update Monday, Sarno declined to identify any of the events or the people who are promoting them.

" I am not going to start naming them," said Sarno.

He said in some instances, the organizers are planning to charge participating vendors and make a profit.

  Springfield Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris said the city’s Board of Health has the authority to “shut down” any event where food is being sold without a permit.

Caulton-Harris said the city will first attempt to contact the people who are promoting the events and ask them to follow the permitting process or cancel.

" I don't want anyone to think this is punitive," said Caulton-Harris. "This is about saving lives in our city and the western region."

To secure a permit to use space in a city park, the application must include a COVID-19 safety plan that conforms to current state guidelines for such things as social distancing and face mask-wearing, according to Springfield parks director Patrick Sullivan.

"We are making the proper decisions to keep everyone safe," said Sullivan.

Currently in Massachusetts, outdoor gatherings can have no more than 100 people.  

The record-setting tenure of Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. The 2011 tornado and its recovery that remade the largest city in Western Massachusetts. The fallout from the deadly COVID outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers Home. Those are just a few of the thousands and thousands of stories WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill has covered for WAMC in his nearly 17 years with the station.
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