PITTSFIELD, M.A. (NEWS10) – Pittsfield health officials say they have had an alarming rise of COVID-19 cases in the past couple of weeks. They are doubling down on safety protocols when it comes to schools and restaurants.
“We adjusted the restaurant operations to suspend indoor dining for the time being until we can get our rates under better control. We also transitioned all our schools to remote learning,” said Gina Armstrong, Director of Pittsfield health department.
Armstrong says the recent spikes do not include cases involving student-to-student, staff-to-staff, or student-to-staff interactions within their school buildings. She says the data shows that the recent uptick in Pittsfield’s COVID-19 cases are directly relate to large gatherings that have taken place in recent weeks within the community. They decided to revert to remote learning earlier than expected.
“That was a result of the clusters we had related to gatherings indoor and private residence parties around Halloween. We also saw some clusters at restaurants,” said she.
Dr. Alan Kulberg, the chair of Pittsfield Board of Health says all schools will be remote until December 4. They are set to reevaluate at a further date. But when it comes to indoor dining resuming in restaurants, he says they don’t have a specific time table.
“Unfortunately for restaurant owners it just happens to be that restaurants are an excellent breeding ground for the spread of coronavirus. You often have groups of people gathering with masks off while eating,” said Dr. Kulberg.
With in person dining off the table, the Marketplace Cafe in downtown Pittsfield say they are able to make the switch to only takeout once again.
“I feel a lot better about where our trajectory is at the moment because we have sort of done this by now,” said Paul Lilienthal, an employee.
Local eateries will still be allowed to provide take-out and delivery service. Patrons should feel free to utilize the city’s temporary “grab-and-go” zones for food pickup, which were installed this past spring throughout the downtown. These designated areas offer free and time limited space to allow for quick customer turnover and social distancing. All restaurants and bars stop must end table service at 9:30 p.m.