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Stockbridge issues quarantine request, asks residents not to admit out-of-towners

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STOCKBRIDGE — Town leaders are urging travelers from outside Berkshire County to stay out of Stockbridge and, if they have recently arrived, to self-quarantine for 14 days to help combat further spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement at Thursday night's meeting, the three members of the Select Board strongly endorsed a Tri-Town Health Department advisory issued earlier in the day, urging lodging hosts in Lee, Lenox and Stockbridge to postpone any reservations from visitors who have been in COVID-19 "hot spots," such as the New York metro area.

The letter from Tri-Town Health Executive Director James Wilusz was aimed at hotels, homeowners renting their properties, and short-term rental hosts listing their homes on Airbnb, VRBO and other online sites.

The Select Board addressed its message to visitors, weekenders, second-home owners and short-term rental owners.

"We are asking that you respect the safety of our residents and the integrity of our hospitals, emergency services and infrastructure and not travel to Stockbridge at this time," the board stated. "This is in keeping with federal and state mandates that people stay at home and stay put. It is far safer for you to stay home and limit your activities."

The board members also cautioned that "any expectations that resources will be available to you here that are not available to you in your current location are simply unrealistic."

They pointed out that "we have few hospitals in Berkshire County and those that we do have, along with our emergency responders, are currently at risk of having inadequate personal protective equipment. The additional needs created by incoming travelers and second-home owners may tax our medical care and emergency response systems beyond capacity."

The Select Board also directed recent arrivals in Stockbridge to self-quarantine for 14 days to limit possible exposures, as recommended by the White House Coronavirus Task Force and the Tri-Town Health Department.

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"We have recently seen an increased influx of travelers from outside of Berkshire County who are staying at second homes and short-term rentals," the board's letter stated. "While travelers may be seeking refuge from the larger amount of cases in their home location, everyone must be aware that this is a global pandemic. All incoming people have a critical role to play in halting the rapid spread of this virus, which can be dangerous and even fatal to the elderly and people with underlying health conditions."

Select Board Chairman Terry Flynn and members Chuck Cardillo and Roxanne McCaffrey asked hotels and short-term rental owners to heed Tri-Town Health's letter.

"We agree it is best that bookings from travelers coming from high-risk areas not be accepted until the spread of COVID-19 is stopped," they stated at the meeting televised live by CTSB TV and available at ctsbtv.org.

Citing a growing number of cases in Berkshire County and statewide, the Select Board cautioned that the number of exposures "will undoubtedly increase with the movement of nonresidents and part-time residents into our area from other parts of the state and country, resulting in a strain upon the resources of public health, first responders, health care providers, our hospitals and government personnel."

The Select Board cited Gov. Charlie Baker's order closing non-essential businesses.

"Grocery stores, while still open to the public, are experiencing difficulty keeping shelves stocked with food and basic supplies," the statement noted.

Stockbridge has a year-round population of about 2,000 residents. Nearly two-thirds of full-time residents are 50 or older, while 45 percent are 60 and over, "therefore having increased vulnerability during this outbreak," the Select Board stated.

Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@yahoo.com, on Twitter @BE_cfanto or at 413-637-2551.


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