New Bedford closing bar-area seating for Thanksgiving weekend

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NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — The number of Massachusetts cities and towns deemed high-risk for coronavirus transmission has more than doubled since last week.

Among the 62 communities listed are nearly all of the cities and towns in Bristol County.

On Thursday, the Mass. Department of Public Health reported nearly 2,300 new infections and another 34 COVID-19-related deaths.

Full breakdown of today’s COVID-19 data ( »

The mayors of New Bedford and Fall River told 12 News they’re taking additional steps on top of Gov. Charlie Baker’s new restrictions in an effort to combat the resurgent pandemic.

In New Bedford, restaurants must close bar-area seating from Nov. 25–29.

“One of the biggest bar weekends of the entire year is Thanksgiving. It’s a time for reunions, it’s a lot of fun for a lot of people,” Mayor Jon Mitchell said. “Many people go out to bars but this year, that tradition is a little too risky.”

Earlier this week, Baker urged residents not to celebrate Thanksgiving with extended family and friends, saying that casual indoor gatherings are helping fuel the rising case count.

Mitchell asked residents to only gather with members of their household for the holiday. He also encouraged employers to allow their employees to work remotely if possible during the two weeks after Thanksgiving to prevent spread.

“We want people to be around next Thanksgiving so people can get back together and feel normal again,” Mitchell added.

Fall River Mayor Paul Coogan said he and other city officials will give residents public health announcements starting on Saturday.

“We’re going to be meeting down at the South End and we’re going to be putting flyers in people’s mailboxes and going door to door so people understand how important this is right now,” he said.

“We want to get the message out having a big group together for Thanksgiving is not very wise at this time,” Coogan continued. “A lot of places are on the rise right now and we happen to be one of them.”

In addition, Coogan said residents need to not only continue doing what they’ve been doing since the start of the pandemic such as wearing masks, keeping their distance and regularly washing their hands, but also do it a little better.

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