“We are looking forward to a little return to new normal,” said Town Manager Sarah Stanton about the road race, parade, and street fair, as well as evening fireworks.
The Board of Health met one hour earlier and also voted 5-0 to recommend to the Select Board to clear the way for Bedford Day. “We have received no advisories or other information” about Covid-related restrictions on outdoor gatherings, said Health and Human Services Director Heidi Porter.
The Health Board motion included a reminder that masks will be available Saturday in the vaccination clinic set up in a tent near Town Center.
“Our messaging should be encouraging wearing a mask when close to people,” said Select Board Chair Margot Fleischman. Her colleague William Moonan noted that “crowding around certain booths is an ideal place to mask.”
Moonan asked whether the board should require masks on Bedford Day. Stanton said the Board of Health did not call for that. She said she was not aware of outdoor activities in the region that have imposed covid-related limits.
Ann Kiessling made the Bedford Day motion at the Board of Health meeting. Porter provided data that showed a slight decrease in the most recent two-week rolling tally of Covid-19 cases: 47 cases on Sept. 9, and 55 a week earlier. The total on July 22 was seven. Porter said in answer to a question that 13 of the 47 cases were connected to the VA Hospital or Hanscom Air Force Base.
Board member Bea Brunkhorst noted that major outdoor events like the Topsfield Fair and the Eastern States Exposition are scheduled to take place. Porter said the only outdoor occasion that resulted in an outbreak was in Provincetown.
Katharine Dagle, assistant health director, reported that her office has processed 12 applications for food on Bedford Day, and only four of those will be cooking. This is significantly fewer than past years when there have been as many as 35, she said.
There was some conversation about recommending masks outdoors. Porter noted that some epidemiologists have said “if you’re in a large crowd you might want to wear a mask,” depending on personal health circumstances.
Board Chair Anita Raj suggested incorporating a masking recommendation in the motion, but Kiessling said she wouldn’t support it. Member Maureen Richichi said the motion could cite the CDC position that unvaccinated people wear a mask in crowds. That would mean every child under age 12, Kiessling pointed out. “I hope people are careful and thoughtful about this,” Richichi said.
“If people feel more comfortable, they should wear a mask,” Stanton said. She stressed that details about Bedford Day can be found at https://www.bedfordma.gov/bedford-day-2021.
Mike Rosenberg can be reached at email@example.com, or 781-983-1763