Annual Block Party in Amherst cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns

Hampshire County

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – The annual 2021 Block Party in Amherst has been cancelled due to the concern of spreading coronavirus.

According to a news release sent to 22News from the Amherst Downtown BID, after consulting with public health experts as well as businesses and community members the event scheduled for Friday, September 17 has been cancelled. They felt it was a hard decision however, contact is unavoidable where food is being served, making masks hard to avoid wearing. They also didn’t want to put anyone under 12-years-old at risk since they are still not vaccinated.

“Obviously the block party is a great way to amplify the voices of these shops, but you also want to be safe,” said William Vincent of Amherst.

Although being outdoors without masks is safe, the Amherst Downtown BID did not want to be responsible for a rise in COVID-19 cases which would then possibly create a stricter mask mandate or gathering restrictions.

“We are also very aware of how many of our small businesses are struggling to find staff and are working tirelessly to keep their businesses open. Adding the stress of manning outdoor tents while keeping their establishments open was a prominent factor in this decision.”

Amherst Downtown BID

The annual Block Party is a great community event meant to bring people of all ages together, engage with each other, appreciate artists and performers, and support the local businesses in our downtown. This year’s Block Party would have been the 9th annual. It is a much-loved and well-attended celebration of the start of the fall semester for Amherst colleges and the university. We look forward to organizing the Block Party for a safer time.

“The higher our mask mandates go, the hardest it is for businesses to be successful,” said Gabrielle Gould, of the Amherst Downtown Business Improvement District. “Our primary concern is supporting our small businesses and making sure that things don’t get any harder for them.”

The town of Amherst already has an indoor mask mandate and some residents agree with the decision to cancel the event.

“I think it would kind of be a festering pot for something to spark up, and it could lead to more mandates, so better play it safe and enjoy our small freedoms now,” said Faithe Shatford of Amherst.

The Block Party typically brings people of all ages together as the start of the fall semester at Amherst colleges gets underway. The annual community event would include artists, performers, and support from local businesses in downtown Amherst.

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