people wander the garden

Visitors wander through the gardens, to activity stations for kids, on the first day of the 2020 Harvest Festival at Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge. The festival, which typically spans the course of a single weekend in October, was canceled this year. 

LEE — The Tri-Town Health Department has updated its COVID guidance for Lee, Lenox and Stockbridge to clarify its position on wedding venues.

The revisions to its coronavirus pandemic directives, which Tri-Town emphasizes are not mandates, since they can’t be enforced, include:

• Masking will not be required for small-scale indoor events of 500 people or fewer if the event can achieve full-vaccination-rate status, or attendees provide the venue, upon request, a negative COVID test result within 48 hours before the event.

• This directive does not require establishments and/or venues to cancel events, but rather strongly encourages compliance to protect the public and prevent further spread of COVID-19.

• Establishments and venues reserve the legal authority to implement any COVID-19 safety standard that is more stringent than local and state laws.

At its meeting last week, the Tri-Town Boards of Health agreed to continue its directive supporting indoor masking at public spaces in Lee, Lenox and Stockbridge. But, the members also asked James Wilusz, the regional health agency’s executive director, to clarify the guidance for small-scale events such as weddings and other celebrations.

The revisions, issued Monday, were sent to the chambers of commerce in the three towns, town halls and to all Tri-Town permit holders.

The original directive, issued Sept. 2 and updated Sept. 22, also called for outdoor masking when social distancing isn’t possible.

At that time, the department urged postponement of large outdoor events with a capacity of 5,000 or more. As a result, Founders Weekend in Lee, the Lenox Apple Squeeze and the Berkshire Botanical Garden’s Harvest Festival were canceled.

Organizers for events of fewer than 5,000 capacity were asked to maintain masking and social distancing. Restaurant, supermarket and retail compliance generally was strong, Wilusz said at last week’s meeting. But, wedding venues asked Tri-Town to clarify how the directive applied to celebrations.

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