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Outdoor Activity Ban Lifted in Amherst, Remains in Place in Belchertown

AMHERST, Mass. (WGGB) — While it’s nice that we get to enjoy the mild air for a little longer, the threat for mosquito-borne illness has carried through the fall season.

It has been over two months since the state’s Department of Public Health classified Amherst at a ‘High’ risk for mosquito-borne illnesses like Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or EEE.

The move forced officials to place restrictions on outdoor activities between dusk and dawn

“Most of the events were able to move indoors or change their location in some way,” says UMass spokesperson Daniel Fitzgibbons.

But some good news came Friday.

“Just in time for homecoming this weekend, we have lifted the ban on evening activities, so people can go out and enjoy the activities that are planned,” Fitzgibbons adds.

Although the area hasn’t had a hard frost yet, mosquitoes aren’t too active when temperatures fall below 50 degrees in the evening.

Lifting the ban allows UMass athletes on the field after dark, but students in other communities will still have to wait.

That is the story for Belchertown, where in early August, the threat level for EEE in that town was raised to ‘Critical.’

“We’ve had a dusk calendar that we have to keep an eye on and so we just make sure everything happens before dusk hits,” says Belchertown Superintendent of Schools Judith Houle.

Of course, as days get shorter, that timeline keeps changing and it is becoming more difficult, but knowing safety comes first, the athletic director continues coordinate the schedule for home games

Soon enough, they hope their ban will be lifted too.

Houle adds, “Next week looks like it will be colder, so hopefully that will help the problem.”

While the ban has been lifted in Amherst, it’s still a good idea to keep using bug spray until that hard frost comes.

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