UPDATED: Framingham Police Refine Its Policy When Responding To Large Gatherings & Parties During COVID-19 Pandemic

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Updated on Tuesday afternoon with statement from acting police chief Ron Brandolini.

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FRAMINGHAM – The City of Framingham’s Health Director and its Mayor have repeatedly said that large gatherings are one of the main reason for the increase in coronavirus cases in the City of Framingham.

Framingham is currently a red community or a community at high-risk for the coronavirus. The City has been a high-risk or red community since the end of August and continues to be a high-risk community into October.

Earlier today, Framingham Public Schools Superintendent Bob Tremblay announced that hybrid learning would not start in November but has been pushed back to January 2021.

Framingham is also one of six communities in the Commonwealth out of 351 receiving assistance from the state for help in stopping the spread of the virus.

Over the last weekend, and in during almost every weekend in August & September, Framingham Police have been called to large parties and gatherings.

The City’s police officers would respond and note that parties were violating the Governor’s gathering order.

For indoor gatherings, the maximum is 25 people in a single enclosed area.

For outdoor gatherings, there is a maximum of 50 people in a single space.

For smaller spaces, a limit of 25 percent of the area’s legal maximum occupancy — or eight people per 1,000 square feet where no occupancy is recorded.

But the Governor’s order requires everyone over the age of 2 to wear a face covering at organized gatherings of more than 10 people involving more than one household. That includes private indoor or backyard house parties.

So today, October 5, the City’s Police Department revised its policy on enforcement of the Governor’s order.

The Framingham Health Department is responsible for enforcing the Covid-19 restrictions and the Police Department is responsible for assisting the Health Department. We will continue to receive reports and respond to  large gatherings and groups until this global pandemic ends and the restrictions are lifted, said the police department through its spokesperson Lt. Patricia Grigas.

Responding officers will  collect and document as much of the following information as legally and practically possible under the circumstances:

  • The correct address, including apartment number (if applicable) of the incident;
  • The home / property owner’s name and identifying information;
  • The name and identifying information of the host and/or person in control of the premises;
  • An estimate of the number of persons present, both inside and outside;
  • The number of persons wearing and/or not wearing masks;
  • Whether or not social distancing is being maintained;
  • Whether or not there are violations of the Governor’s Covid-19 orders and, if so, a description of the violations;
  • If a gathering appears to violate the order, officers shall inform the host of the violation(s) and request compliance;
  • Document any compliance or non-compliance.

“The Police Report documenting the violations, will be forwarded to the Framingham Health Department and they will impose a $500.00 fine for violations. Officers shall strongly encourage voluntary compliance with the Covid-19 restrictions,” said the department today.

On Tuesday, Acting Police Chief Ron Brandolini issued this statement:

“The Framingham Police Department is committed to assisting the Framingham Health Department with the enforcement of the Governor’s, Mayor’s and Health Directors Covid-19 Executive Orders to the fullest extent that the law and practicalities allow. Officers have been ordered to respond to reports of large groups and gatherings and to collect and document as much information as possible under the circumstances. The pertinent information that is documented will be forwarded to the Framingham Health Department who will then impose fines. Officers will also educate persons present at these gatherings regarding the restrictions and request compliance. Officers lack the legal authority to enter private premises without consent, a warrant, or exigent circumstances. Also, there is no right of arrest for alleged Covid-19 violations and there is no legal requirement that an individual produce identification or provide his or her true name in these situations. These legal constraints may hinder the Police Department’s ability to provide as much information to the Health Department as we would like. Nevertheless, we remain firmly committed to assist the Health Department to the fullest extent possible. I encourage the public to comply with the Governor’s restrictions and to postpone large gatherings until it is safe for them to resume.”

Also on Monday, the City of Framingham’s Health Department announced that there will no longer be warnings for violations of the COVID order, but $500 fines on the first offense.

The City of Framingham issued its first fine to an apartment building on Route 9 on September 11.

The City issued a $500 fine to Cotton Candy Party Productions after the business allowed parties in the basement of an office building on Route 126, across from the Framingham District Courthouse.

 If residents wish to report a large gathering or party, they may call the police department’s non emergency line at 508-872-1212.

They don’t have to give their name, said Lt, Grigas.

Residents can also report parties via Facebook messenger to the Framingham Police Department’s Facebook page.

Residents are advised not to report parties via the SeeItClickItFixIt app.

They can report parties anonymously through the Framingham Police Departments’ anonymous app, but there may be a delay in response.

editor

email: editor@FraminghamSource.com call or text at 508-315-7176

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