Updated Guidance on Applying for and Hosting a Safe Event, Performance, or Retail Sales on Somerville Public Property

As of May 29th, the City of Somerville will align with the State in lifting COVID-19 restrictions. Individuals and organizations can now organize events or performances on City of Somerville property, if they follow all of the necessary protocols and indoor and outdoor capacity limits as approved in their original business permit. 

See below for guidelines on public events and performances and instructions for applying for the required permits. 

  • Guidelines for All Events & Performances

  • How to Apply for a Public Event

As the City and State reopen, remember that COVID-19 is still present in our community and individuals and businesses should continue to take measures to prevent the spread of the illness. 

Please continue to follow CDC guidelines for hosting small gatherings and large gatherings. As this is an evolving situation, we will continue to update the guidelines to align with the State and CDC as they change. 

  1. Face Coverings
    • If you are fully vaccinated (two weeks past your final shot), you will no longer be required to wear a mask unless you choose to. 
    • If you have not been fully vaccinated, the CDC recommends that you continue to mask indoors, and outdoors when social distancing is not possible. Please continue to wear a mask for your safety and the safety of those around you.
    • When wearing a face covering, it must cover both nose and mouth.
    • Businesses, at their discretion, may continue to require face coverings on their premises. Please follow any local business requirements. 

Note: Following State guidance, face coverings will continue to be required for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals at all times when on public transportation, rideshares and taxis, in healthcare facilities, and in other settings hosting vulnerable populations. 

  1. Social Distancing 
    • To avoid overcrowding as businesses reopen and recognizing that there will be unvaccinated individuals in most settings, it is recommended to continue to manage social distancing in small and large gatherings to allow for a distance of at least 6 feet between customers. 
  2. Size Limitations 
    • Beginning on May 29th, businesses may revert to 100% capacity according to their pre-COVID business permit.
  3. Food and Beverage
    • It is recommended that individuals should not walk around an event eating and drinking indoors or outdoors in a crowded space.

Decide if your event will be in a public park (like Lincoln Park or Trum Field), a public plaza (like Davis Sq or Union Sq Plazas) or another public space (like a street or sidewalk).

  • If the event will be in a public park, go to Step 2. 
  • If the event will be in a public plaza or another public space, go to Step 3.

If you wish to perform in a public park or recreation facility, you must submit a facility reservation request through the City’s Parks and Recreation Department at somervillerec.com. Please note there are fees for the use of fields and the boathouse. Once Parks and Recreation receives the request, they will confirm with you either by email or phone. 

  • Instructions for somervillerec.com:
    • Create an organization account with a username and password 
    • Login with your account information
    • On the home page select “Click here to make a Facility/Field Reservation Request”
    • Select your preferred location at the top of the screen
    • View the calendar and openings for that location (double click your preferred date to see full availability)
    • Select an available date and time for your location
    • In the “notes” section add any additional information such as lights, concessions, etc. 
    • Submit the request.
    • In addition to submitting a facility use request, you must submit a public event license through CitizenServe.Your use of the field is contingent on the approval of your public event license application. Proceed to Step 3 to complete your public event license application.

To apply for a license for your event or performance, visit the City’s CitizenServe platform at somervillema.gov/citizenserve. If you have any questions, please email [email protected] or call 311. Please allow up to six weeks for the approval process.

  • Instructions for Citizenserve:
    • Click “Citizenserve Portal”
    • Log in, or, if this is your first online application, click “REGISTER NOW” to create an account
    • Under “Licensing” click “Apply for a License”
    • At Application Type, select “Public Event/Special Alcohol License” (even if you will not have alcohol). 
    • At Business Name, enter the name of your group and/or event. 
    • At “Is this application for a new or existing business location?”: 
      • Select “A new business location” if this is your first application. Then enter your home or business address, and click on “FIND ADDRESS.” Click on “USE THIS ADDRESS” if asked. Make sure CitizenServe accepts the address as valid. If it doesn’t, email the city clerk at [email protected]lema.gov. OR 
      • Select “An additional license for an existing business” if you’ve already been licensed before. At “License #” select a license you’ve received before.
    • Answer the remaining questions.  
    • Upload any required documents.
    • Review the terms and conditions. Don’t proceed until you are ready to accept all terms and conditions. 
    • Note that once you submit the form, you may not be able to re-open it to edit it. If you’re not ready to submit the form, click “SAVE FOR LATER”, so you can come back to finish it. 
    • If you’re ready, “SUBMIT” the form. 

Per the City’s existing Street Performers ordinance, buskers and street performers may perform on public property without a license. However, if the space has already been reserved by another group, the other group has priority for use of the space. Buskers and street performers must adhere to the guidance above. If you have any questions, please email [email protected] or call 617-625-6600 ext. 5600.   

Individuals, organizations, and businesses may apply to sell items on public property. To do so, you must first apply for a license via CitizenServe at somervillema.gov/citizenserve. See instructions above for CitizenServe. You will be required to upload a COVID Health and Safety Plan as part of your application.

  • If you are planning on a mobile retail opportunity, please apply for a Hawker and Peddler License. 
  • If you are applying to have a temporary retail location in a fixed site, please apply for a Transient Vendor License. 
  • If you are an existing business with a storefront, you will need to apply for an Outdoor Seating and Goods license. 
  • If you are an individual without a storefront who would like to set up an outdoor retail space outside an existing store, please contact the owner of the store and work with them to apply for this license. 

If you have any questions, please email [email protected] or call 311.