PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire Museum has suspended its mask and vaccine requirements for visitors. Starting Monday, guests will not be required to wear masks nor show proof of vaccination.
This move follows guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and state and city health officials, who are no advising that indoor masking is no longer required because positive cases of COVID-19 have dramatically declined since the holidays.
The museum is among the first to drop all pandemic restrictions; a number of Berkshire institutions are still requiring masks and/or proof of vaccination, at least as of Monday. Public schools have already dropped their masking requirements or have set dates for those mandates to expire.
Pittsfield has dropped from red to yellow in this incident rate level and is reporting about 50 active cases in the city. About 76 percent of residents are now vaccinated.
Museum staff will continue to wear face coverings and encourage any unvaccinated visitors or those who have a weakened immune system or are at increased risk for severe disease due to age or an underlying medical condition or have someone in their household with a weakened immune system, to do the same, as recommended by public health officials.
"As we have done throughout the pandemic, we are following scientific evidence, striving to be good neighbors and community members, and adhering to the standards put forth by city and county leaders, and our public schools. We will continue to do so and recognize that this may be a temporary loosening of restrictions. We're all in this together, and we will continue to provide wonderful programming and exhibits to the entire community according to guidance from public health officials," according to a statement by co-Executive Directors Hilary Ferrone, Miriam Kronberg, and Craig Langlois. "We are grateful for the community's support and understanding of our previous admission restrictions as we sought to make every visitor's museum experience as safe as possible."
The museum's current exhibit is "Voyage to the Deep," based on French author Jules Verne's 1870 classic "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea." At the center of this fantasy world is Captain Nemo's submarine, a giant Nautilus in which kids can climb aboard and discover the inner workings of a deep-sea submersible and explore the captain's Cabinet of Curiosities full of marine specimens.
Adults only can party at the "(un)Beach Bash!" on Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. with Voyage to the Deep and the White Eyed Lizard Band. Tickets includes marine-inspired nibbles, tropical spirits, and a steel drum band. Admission is $50; members $40.
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Chair Ellen Maxon this week asked the board members if they would like to take a vote to support body cameras but some were unsure of their stance. Instead, the panel motioned Tuesday to request that in the event that the Police Department adopts such a program, PARB reviews the governing policies before implementation.
The conversation is in response to the death of Miguel Estrella at the hands of a police officer in late March, which has sparked a significant community response along with conversations about police accountability and the lack of mental health support.
"I still have a pretty mixed opinion because I feel like something like body cameras, people think that's going to be the end all, be all and we don't have to do any more work," board member Erin Sullivan said, adding that there is a bigger problem beyond video surveillance.
Board member Dennis Powell, who is also president of the Berkshire NAACP, wished not to share his thoughts on body cameras at the moment.
Officials say pooling their resources will help relieve the strain that the police reform law has had on small departments because of new training requirements for part-time officers and will offer more opportunities for officers within a larger force.
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Third Thursday runs from 5 to 8 p.m. on the Common after a two-year hiatus.
This month's theme is youth and the evening will include entertainment on the mainstage and activities, food and vendors. click for more