City of Framingham Issues $10,500 COVID Gathering Fine

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FRAMINGHAM – The City of Framingham issued a $10,500 fine for a large party in January 2021.

A Framingham health inspector issued a $10,500 fine for a party at 153 Second Street for a large gathering on January 15, 2021. The health department said there was an indoor part of more than 30 people after 9:30 p.m.

SOURCE obtained the information about the January 2021 fine, via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Massachusetts Public Records request with the health department.

The request was filed on February 1, but the City did not release the information to the digital news outlet until yesterday, March 8.

State law requires responses to FOIA within 10 business days.

The City chose to remove the names of the individual whom the fine was issued to, citing privacy reasons.

According to another FOIA request, the City of Framingham issued $21,000 worth of fines for five gatherings in December 2020, for violations of COVID orders, including one fine for $10,500.

The City issued roughly $47,000 fines in total in 2020, between September 2020 and January 2021.

In November, Gov. Charlie Baker issued a new order which prohibits gatherings after 9:30 p.m. The order also limited indoor gatherings to 10 and outdoor to 25, down from 50.

The largest fine in 2020 by the City of Framingham was for a gathering of 30 individuals after 9:30 p.m. at 153 Second Street.

A fine of $10,500 was issued for that address in December 2020 and again in January 2021 – 2 gatherings and a total of $21,000 in fines.

That address is an apartment building.

The City did not note in its response to the FOIA for January fines, an apartment #. The gathering was at apartment #163 in December.

Neither have been paid as of March 9.

In November, Framingham Health Director Sam Wong, who has since resigned, said with the Governor’s new order allows communities to fine $500 per person, as opposed to $500 per gathering,

Wong said if there is a party with 20 people, the City of Framingham, under the Governor’s new order, can charge the 10 additional people $500 each, for a $5,000 fine, as opposed to the $500 large gathering fine.

The City began COVID violation fines in September 2020.

The City of Framingham issued its first fine on September 11 to Halstead apartments on Route 9, for a violation of the Governor’s COVID gathering orders. The second $500 fine was issued a couple of weeks later to the owner of Cotton Candy Party Production, after police were called to a Concord Street apartment building, where after-hour parties were taking place n the basement with DJ, alcohol, and few wearing masks.

In October, 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 issued more than 2 dozen fines in 2020, and only a handful were paid as of December 31, 2020.

SOURCE requested an update list of fines paid from the City on February 1, when the City responded on March 8, it did not provide that information.

In Framingham, for single-family homes, it is the property owner or the renters of the homes who could be fined.

For multi-family dwellings, such as apartment and condominium complexes, the City will work to identify the one hosting the gathering to determine who should be fined. If the event is held in a common area of an apartment or condominium complex, the property owner could be liable if the City is unable to identify the person who organized the gathering.

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 fine for violations. Officers shall strongly encourage voluntary compliance with the Covid-19 restrictions,” said the department,

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