CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Chicopee Mayor John Vieu announced that his city is at the surge of this COVID-19 pandemic, and with that, he said Chicopee is still taking strict precautions to control the virus.

The city is closly watching how local essential businesses operate. During a news conference Thursday night, Mayor Vieu said even though numbers are hopeful, residents still must follow the city’s strict protocols in order to stop COVID-19.

“The economy can recover, but you can’t bring back a loved one, a friend,” Mayor Vieu said.

The City of Chicopee has some of the strictest social distancing protocols in western Massachusetts. Large retailers like BJ’s Wholesale, Walmart, and CVS in the city are required to block off all sections of the store that do not sell “essential” items, and they’ve also created a compliance task force to make sure stores are following these rules.

Mayor Vieu said his goal is to protect human life, “I do not want Chicopee to be a big factor in that death toll that this virus is impacting our country with.”

Also announced at that news conference, online class at Chicopee Public Schools will continue through April break.

Lynn Clark, superintendent of Chicopee Public Schools said, “We just started getting our students really engaged, so to have a break in that engagement really was not in the best interest of students.”

There is help for small businesses, too. Mayor Vieu said more than $900,000 has been allocated for small, struggling businesses. He is encouraging business owners to contact the Community Development Office or the Mayor’s office for more information.

Mayor Vieu said there is no decision yet on whether the city will re-open on May 4.