West Springfield implements indoor mask mandate; effective first day of The Big E

Hampden County

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – In a unanimous decision, the West Springfield Board of Health voted on Wednesday to implement an indoor mask mandate for the entire city, two days before the Big E. 

The indoor mask mandate goes into effect on Friday. This means anyone who visits any indoor setting in West Springfield must wear a mask, regardless of their vaccination status. 

The Big E drew more than 1.6 million visitors in 2019. On Wednesday, the West Springfield Board of Health met to determine whether masks should be mandated. From what 22News has been hearing over the last week, most people agree with the proposal.

It’s crunch time at the Big E fairgrounds. Vendors rushing to get last-minute preparations done as we approach opening day. The Big E has already begun producing signs that say masks are required, the proposal coming two days before the Big E is set to begin. President and CEO Gene Cassidy says he’s not surprised by the proposed mandate.

“The increase of cases we have seen over the few weeks, from hearing from Baystate the people they have treated for COVID is increasing, the board of health wants to do their due diligence, ” West Springfield Mayor Will Reichelt said.

Stephanie Veluz works at the White Hut station at the Big E, she told 22News, “I think even if they don’t mandate it, people should still do it just to be safe, because there are going to be little kids around here and you can’t keep kids and teenagers away from the Big E. They should still do it to keep everyone safe.”

There is already a mask mandate for municipal buildings in West Springfield, and with hundreds of thousands of people expecting to attend the fair, the Board of Health feels it’s necessary to come to a conclusion for private indoor spaces. The regulations would require face coverings in all indoor public places as well as private places open to the public for those over the age of 2.

“I think when it comes to the Big E, especially at a time like this, I think people need to be left to make their own decisions,” said Brett Berchin of West Springfield.

A mobile vaccination clinic will be at the fair for all 17 days.

“I could get sick and not even know I am sick and bring this home,” says Ryan Zappia of Agawam. “I mean, what does this hurt me? It doesn’t hurt me. It doesn’t hurt me or somebody else. If it keeps somebody safe, then so be it.”

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