WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Visitors to the Big E will have to mask-up, as an indoor mask mandate has been issued in West Springfield, just in time for the fair’s opening on Friday. The mandate is for everyone two years of age and older, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.
According to Eastern States Exposition President Gene Cassidy, indoors counts as any building with four solid walls, so masks are not required inside of tents. Examples of where it is required that Cassidy gave are the Better Living Center and State buildings.
When it comes to the Mallary Complex, where the cows and sheep are, masks are required inside of the show arena but not inside of the barn because it is open-aired. Also, the farmers in the Mallary building barn don’t have to wear masks because the fair says they worry about the animals getting scared since they wouldn’t recognize their owners.
“Doesn’t bother me what so ever. You got to wear a mask, you got to wear a mask. You know we went through a whole year wearing a mask. I’m fully vaccinated, proud of it,” said Tina Fisk-Colt, a sheep exhibitor from Birchwood Farm in Rhode Island.
At the fair, Big E employees will be screened at the beginning of each shift. All buildings will have hand sanitizer stations placed in high-traffic areas, and the fair is posting signs throughout the grounds telling people masks are required in all indoor spaces.
West Springfield Mayor Will Reichelt told 22News they have heard COVID cases at Baystate Medical Center are increasing, and that has influenced their decision to implement a mask mandate. He also released specific numbers for the town Thursday night.
According to Reichelt, officials are monitoring 135 active cases as of 5:00 P.M. Wednesday. He said that is up from 35 cases in the whole month of September last year.
Right now, the town’s positive COVID test rate is about 6%, which is up from 4.3% during the last week of August.
Under the town’s mask mandate, people are allowed to remove their masks indoors only when actively eating and drinking.