things to do in salem, visiting salem ma october 2020, covid 19, coronavirus

Hi everyone, welcome back to the blog. Today I wanted to share some information that Haunted Happenings has put together regarding visiting Salem this October. They organized the information nicely and I promised you guys updates as soon we have them…so here we go. I hope this helps.

Per Haunted Happenings:

“Things will look different this October in Salem, Massachusetts, and to help navigate new guidelines and changes, we’ve created this list of FAQs.

Travel Advisories

Are there any travel restrictions for visiting Salem?

It depends on where you are visiting from. *Most out of state visitors need to fill out a traveler form and indicate whether they are going to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Massachusetts or produce a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of travel. The fine for noncompliance is $500 per day. Visit for the form and complete information. The order is in place until further notice.

*The following states are exempt from the order (as of September 14, 2020): Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Please note, that these exemptions may change as data changes. We recommend checking frequently leading up to your trip.

What if I am visiting for the day from Rhode Island?

Visitors from Rhode Island are not currently exempt from the travel order, so they must fill out the traveler form and either quarantine in Massachusetts or provide a negative COVID-19 test taken with 72 hours of travel. There are exemptions for coming into Massachusetts from Rhode Island, but only for grocery shopping, pharmacy visits, medical appointments, visiting persons in hospitals/care facilities, and religious services. RI residents are permitted to attend wedding ceremonies in MA under the religious services exemption, but they should not attend receptions without adhering to the travel order.

Who will check on my traveler form?

Accommodations in MA have been instructed to direct their guests to the form at the time of booking and at check-in. Additionally, MA businesses may ask to review your form or for proof of your negative COVID-19 test if you are visiting from out of state. The fine for noncompliance is $500 per day, and if you are unable to comply with the travel order we ask that you plan your visit for another time.

Mask Requirements

Are masks required in Salem?

Yes. Per the Salem Board of Health, masks are required to be worn by everyone over the age of two in Salem both indoors and outdoors, regardless of physical distancing. Masks may be removed while seated at a table at one of our restaurants, but must be worn as you are seated, exiting, or moving through the restaurant. Learn more at

Even outdoors?

Yes. For the safety of visitors, residents, and employees, masks are required to be worn both indoors and outdoors in Salem. The complete mask order is available at

Are children required to wear masks?

Children over the age of two are required to wear masks in Salem, both indoors and outdoors. Learn more at

What if I have a disability that prevents me from wearing a mask?

If you are unable to wear a mask, businesses may make accommodations if they are able to (for example, contactless delivery or curbside pickup). For the safety of those around you, businesses reserve the right to refuse entry to anyone who is not wearing a mask. If you are unable to wear a mask during your visit, we welcome you to explore Salem another time.

Are face shields allowed in place of masks?

No, face shields cannot be worn as a substitute for a mask in Salem. Cloth masks, disposable medical masks, scarves, and neck gaiters may be worn, and masks with valves are not recommended.


What events have been cancelled? Why?

The following events are cancelled:

  • Haunted Happenings Grand Parade
  • Mayor’s Night Out
  • Kids’ Costume Parade
  • Lanterns in the Village
  • Biz Baz Street Fair
  • Creative Collective Merchant Marketplace vendors (virtual- Visit
  • Salem Food Truck Festival
  • Outdoor food vendors, including Fiesta Shows food trucks
  • Great Salem Pumpkin Walk
  • Haunted Harmonies
  • Howl-o-ween pet parade (virtual)
  • Costume balls/nightlife

Massachusetts is in Phase 3 of a 4-Phase reopening, and Phase 4 will only be considered when there is a vaccine. Under Phase 3 guidelines, events are limited to 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors. Learn more about MA’s reopening plans at

Will there be street performers?

We are not sure. Street performers need to follow the state’s performance venue guidelines, which require there to be 25 ft. between the performers and the closest audience member and 6 ft. between each party, in addition to the limits on gathering sizes of 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors. Street performers will not be in their usual locations on Essex Street due to spacing requirements, and at this time we have not heard plans for them to be located elsewhere. The Haunted Happenings Marketplace, which has gone virtual this year, has listings for Salem’s street performers and you can find updates from them there.

What events are there for kids and families?

While this year’s events have been cancelled, many museums and attractions are family-friendly. You may want to consider Salem Kids Tour, Mahi Cruises’ Haunted Happenings Harbor Cruises, Salem Maritime National Historic Site (grounds/exteriors only), and Salem Trolley.

What’s Open

What is open in Salem?

Most of Salem’s businesses are open. The majority of museums and attractions, walking tours, harbor tours, shops, and restaurants are open with indoor and outdoor dining available. Bars in Massachusetts are not permitted to open at this time, and alcoholic beverages may only be ordered with food while seated at a table. Every business is running on limited capacity, so we recommend booking in advance where reservations are accepted and contacting individual businesses to confirm availability.

While most attractions are open, please note the following changes for 2020:

  • Cry Innocent is offering virtual experiences only this October. Visit for more information.
  • The House of the Seven Gables is offering a modified experience this year with audio tours of the Colonial Seaside Gardens and virtual tours of the interior of the mansion. October performances are not taking place this year. Visit for more information.
  • The New England Pirate Museum is currently closed.
    The Phillips House museum is currently closed.
  • Charter Street Cemetery is closed through October 31 for preservation work.

Is there indoor dining? Are bars open?

Restaurants in Salem have been permitted to open for indoor and outdoor dining. We recommend checking with individual restaurants for specifics. Bars are currently not open in Massachusetts. Alcoholic beverages must be ordered with food while you are seated as a table. Masks are required at all times in restaurants (including when dining outdoors) whenever you are not seated at your table.

Will the cemetery be open?

No. Charter Street cemetery is closed during October for preservation work. The adjacent Salem Witch Trials Memorial remains open. Find guidelines for visiting the memorial here.

Will there be public restrooms open in Salem?

Restrooms are listed on this year’s Haunted Happenings map and on the new Salem app.

Will there still be ghost tours?

Yes! Salem’s walking tours are running. When looking for a tour this October, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Tours are running on very limited capacities, so we recommend booking in advance.
  • Masks are required to be worn by all guests over the age of two at all times while on a tour. Review Salem’s mask mandate by the Board of Health here.
  • Salem has a variety of walking tours, including ghost tours, history tours, food tours, and more. Find a complete list of tours here.

Will there be a carnival?

No, the kids carnival on Salem Common is not running this year. The Derby Street Carnival was discontinued in 2017.


Will it be worth coming this year? Is there enough to do this year?

This depends on your perspective. If you are interested in visiting some of Salem’s museums and attractions, shops, and restaurants, the majority of businesses downtown will be open and happy to see you. October 2020 is a great year for outdoor activities, like Punto Urban Art Museum, exploring the grounds of Salem Maritime National Historic Site (exterior areas only), and the gardens at The House of the Seven Gables. Outdoor dining is prevalent in Salem, and local retailers are all stocked and ready for the fall season. If you are willing to adhere to Salem’s safety guidelines, including wearing your mask both indoors and outdoors, and following the state mandated travel order if you are coming from out of state, 2020 can still be a great year to visit Salem.

If your priorities in visiting Salem are our annual Haunted Happenings events, including the parade, fireworks, street fairs, and costume balls (which have all been cancelled this October in accordance with the state’s limits on gathering sizes), you may want to plan your visit for next October for the traditional Salem Haunted Happenings experience. Additionally, if you are not comfortable wearing a mask during your visit, are not able to adhere to the travel order, or if you or anyone in your party is feeling sick or have been exposed to COVID-19, we ask that you stay home and plan your trip for another time.

Is Salem still expecting crowds this year?

Yes. Lots of people are still planning to visit Salem this year. As you plan your trip, please join us in taking the Salem Together Pledge and help us keep everyone safe by wearing your mask both indoors and outdoors, maintaining physical distancing, and washing your hands frequently.

Are there combination tickets or special deals this year?

COVID-19 has had a significant effect on our local businesses and many are working with drastically reduced capacities and revenue making it difficult to allow for the availability that comes with combination tickets and promotions. We do not anticipate any combination tickets or deals this year, and we encourage you to tip generously when you receive good service in Salem.

How can I participate in Salem Haunted Happenings from home?

If you cannot make it to Salem this year, we’d love to still see your Halloween costumes! Tag #HauntedHappeningsatHome on Instagram to share them with us. You may also want to consider browsing the Haunted Happenings Marketplace, which has gone virtual this year, or shopping your favorite Salem stores online. Some October events will be virtual this year as well, and you can find those on our calendar and on the new Salem app.

Where can I find information on getting married or eloping in Salem?

Information on getting married in Salem is available on For 2020, The Hotel Salem, The House of the Seven Gables, and Ledger have small wedding packages that adhere to the current restrictions on gathering sizes.

What do I need to know about bringing a group to Salem this year?

Each tour operator using a bus or other vehicle (such as a trolley, harbor cruise vessel, or duck boat) must limit occupancy at all times to 50% of the tour, vehicle or vessel’s maximum permitted occupancy as documented in its occupancy permit on record with the relevant municipal record holder.

Occupancy limitations for boat tours using vessels with open deck space that can be used to accommodate passengers shall be determined in accordance with the formula used to set charter boat occupancy limits, outlined in the Workplace Safety and Reopening Standards for For-Hire and Charter Vessels.

  • Tours of spaces for which no permitted occupancy limitation is on record must limit occupancy based on the Indoor and Outdoor Event guidance on the Reopening Website
  • All occupant counts and calculations shall include customers and workers
  • Groups of passengers should be separated on the vehicle by empty seats. If that is not possible, vehicles should stagger open rows
  • Tour operators must limit group size in walking tours to groups of no more than 10 persons
  • Guides and guests should maintain 6 feet of distance and wear face coverings

Find more information on group tours under Massachusetts’ phased reopening guidelines here.”

Thanks so much to Haunted Happenings for organizing this information into one place. Be safe everyone and enjoy!! <3

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