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CHICOPEE — On May 8, 2020, Mayor John Vieau, Chicopee Health Department, and the COVID-19 Task Force team have confidently reviewed and are moving forward with the following updates. This is possible because the Chicopee Health Department data shows the infection rate to be stabilizing and our City’s resources are adequate at this time. These updates are based on a balance between maintaining the health and safety of our residents while decreasing restrictions.
Chicopee Health Department along with Mayor John Vieau is allowing, at their discretion, essential stores to conditionally open their non-essential aisles to customers.
As of today, May 8, 2020, the City of Chicopee Health Department reports 129 active cases, bringing the city to 310-cases total. The five reported deaths within the city were older adults with an underlying health condition. Despite the 5 deceased cases, Lisa Sanders, Director of the Chicopee Health Department explained that the strict and early action kept the city from a catastrophic spread of the virus.
Vieau and Sanders are awaiting news from the Governor’s Office regarding the guidance of the re-opening of other retail, restaurant, and other non-essential establishments that are anxiously waiting to reopen their locations. Under Gov. Baker’s latest order, those businesses are only able to offer e-commerce services.
Sanders addresses the main point of the ‘non-essential area’ re-openings, “These currently open businesses have been following the safety guidelines that the Governor and our Health Department put in place to limit the number of customers that can be in the store at one time. They are and must continue following the social-distancing guidelines and face-covering order - and we expressed to the owners and managers that they should open aisles, if they choose to do so, with care and intelligence.”
"We need to be smart about this," Mayor Vieau said, “It doesn’t mean you open up 100 percent of your space and allow everyone in to browse. The whole point of this is to allow a business to slowly return to a new normal with social distancing built-in."
The Chicopee Health Department has rescinded its mandatory policy and procedure for wearing a mask or other face coverings during the coronavirus pandemic. This move is in response to the Governor’s order on May 6, 2020, that set forth a framework for a statewide requirement for wearing a face-covering, whether indoor or outdoor, and not able to or doesn’t maintain a social distance of six feet from every other person. To review the Governor’s Face-Covering Order please visit: https://www.mass.gov/doc/may-1-2020-masks-and-face-coverings/download
“Governor Baker’s announcement of a state coordinated face-covering effort makes our local orders no longer necessary and has led to some confusion,” Director Lisa Sanders said. “Therefore, so as not to confuse our residents, we have taken the step of rescinding our respective orders and directing residents to the one voice of the Governor.”
“We encourage residents of the city to continue to follow the Governor’s executive order,” Mayor John Vieau added. “Hopefully, we will soon see a return of our favorite businesses and other activities while at the same time protecting our most vulnerable citizens.”
Following discussions with the Department of Parks & Recreation and the Department of Planning & Development, the City will postpone both its annual July 4th Fireworks and the 6th annual Downtown GetDown to future dates.
Parks Superintendent Benjamin Strepka and Planning Director Lee Pouliot will begin discussions this spring through early summer on developing a combined celebration for these two events. Through their combined efforts, Mayor Vieau is confident that a unique, hybrid celebration will be possible that continues the tradition of celebrating our Nation and Chicopee’s heritage while shining a spotlight on the community’s local talent, businesses, and cuisines.
“We are suspending these events to a later date, with hopes of having a better idea of where we’re heading with the coronavirus,” said Mayor Vieau, emphasizing that the city does not want to cancel any events. “I am encouraged by the possibility of a bigger and better event for us to celebrate when we can ensure everyone’s safe participation.”
Details of this future event will be released by Strepka and Pouliot when event dates can be determined and based upon future re-opening plans for the City.
“While we are disappointed that we will not be able to hold our annual July 4th Fireworks Celebration, we are excited and eager to collaborate with the Planning Department on a new and unique event this year,” said Strepka, who sees the situation as an opportunity rather than another cancellation. “Out of this situation, we can go back to the drawing board, use our creativity and resources, try some new things, and put together an awesome celebration for the City of Chicopee.”
While Chicopee Public Libraries remain closed temporarily due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the staff is utilizing websites, social media pages, and ZOOM meetings to keep the virtual library open.
“Closing our doors does not mean we’ve stopped providing the wide variety of resources for our community,” Library Director Nancy Contois said. “We’ve just had to get more creative with how we are delivering them.”
Working with Director Contois and her staff, Mayor Vieau will be able to give the public easier access to the required face-coverings. If anyone needs a face-covering, call the Front Street library at (413) 594-1800.
“When I asked [Nancy], she immediately said yes. It is great to be able to count on our library and its staff to be a reliable resource during this pandemic,” exclaimed Mayor Vieau.
Chicopee Country Club’s Municipal Golf Course will open for limited business on Monday, May 11th. There will be modified rules for play and social distancing requirements in effect at the golf course until further notice. Please call 413-594-9295 for Country Club tee times and schedules.
“Exercising and getting out will help people stay healthy,” said Mayor Vieau, “I hope everyone acts responsibly and follows the guidelines that the Club has put in place.”