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SALEM

Salem expands sidewalk areas downtown to enable social distancing

Salem has temporarily expanded the sidewalk areas along five downtown streets to make it easier for pedestrians to practice social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the changes — which took effect May 18 — pedestrians can walk along the sides of the five streets within areas, marked off by stanchions and rails, effectively extending the sidewalk areas.

Officials noted that the action was spurred by a recognition that some of the city’s sidewalks are too narrow for walkers to maintain safe physical distances. The changes also provide new added space for bicyclists.

The streets where the sidewalks have been extended are Washington Square South and portions of Washington Square East, and Essex, Derby, and Charter streets.

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To effect the policy, the city had to temporarily ban parking on the affected portions of Washington Square East and South, and Essex Street. Parking is already banned on the affected portions of Charter and Derby streets.

John Laidler can be reached at laidler@globe.com.