Amherst Extends Capacity Limits, Early Closures Due to COVID-19 Spike

AMHERST — The Amherst Board of Health issued an emergency order that will continue the mandatory early-closing order and continue certain sector capacity limits, both of which were set to expire on Feb. 8.

The order to extend the 25% capacity ceiling and the 9:30 p.m. closing time for many industries indefinitely was adopted on Sunday, just as UMass Amherst officials raised the university’s risk level and shuttered in-person activities in the face of more than 400 active cases of COVID-19.

The town has been in close communication with officials from the towns of Hadley and Sunderland, which are considering similar measures.

“This is not the direction that we, as a town, nor our businesses, want to go, but it is imperative that the town take decisive action immediately to address this increase in cases,” Amherst Town Manager Paul Bockelman said.

Added Public Health Director Emma Dragon, “it is in the interest of the health of our entire community that we continue the restrictions that are currently in place. Never has it been more important to follow those key public-health protocols of wearing a mask, washing hands, and maintaining social distance.”