COVID Grip Tightens: Walsh Announces City Will Remain in Step Two, Phase Two of Reopening Plan for “At Least” Three More Weeks

Mayor Martin Walsh announced on Tuesday that Boston will remain in Step Two, Phase Two of the state’s reopening process for “at least another three weeks,” until January 27.

Walsh said that as of Monday, Boston had 431 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and two more people had died from the virus. The current community positivity rate is 8.8 percent, which he said was up from last week.

Walsh called the rise in cases “concerning,” adding that hospital rates are also rising. He said that 93 percent of non-surge adult ICU beds in the city are currently occupied, which is the “highest we’ve seen in quite some time.”

Walsh said that “this is one of the most serious points in the pandemic so far,” and if the positive cases do not go down, “we will need to look at more restrictions.”

Walsh originally announced in mid-December that the city would “temporarily” revert to Phase Two, Step Two to help slow the spread of the virus and ensure hospitals would be able to adequately care for patients.

Boston will now remain in this phase until January 27, after which the public health data will be reevaluated. The restrictions include a 10 person limit on indoor gatherings and a 25 person limit on outdoor gatherings, both in public and private spaces.

Activities and businesses to remain closed include gyms, indoor fitness centers, museums, aquariums, and indoor gaming and arcades, among others. One on one training sessions may continue, Walsh said, and indoor recreational and athletic youth activities may continue with a 10 person limit for those 18 and under.

The state’s additional restrictions that went into effect on December 26 also still apply, the mayor said. This includes office space at 25 percent capacity, indoor dining at 25 percent capacity with a 90 minute time limit, and places of worship at 25 percent capacity. Bar seating is not allowed in Boston without written permission from the Licensing Board. For the complete list of restrictions, visit boston.gov/reopening.

Walsh reiterated that these restrictions are “not about targeting specific sectors as a cause of the virus spread,” but the goal is to limit spread and reduce the amount of time people spend outside of their homes with others.           “If metrics get worse we might have to implement further restrictions,” Walsh said.

He also talked about safe dining and thanked Boston’s restaurants “for following the safety protocols,” but added that “we need patrons to do their part.”

He said that “too many people are going out to dinner with people outside of their bubble,” and said that people should not “table hop” if they see someone they know in a restaurant. People should also keep their masks on when they are seated at their table and not actively eating or drinking.

“We need to keep local restaurants open, but only if people follow the public health guidelines,” Walsh said.

He also said that everyone should be getting tested for the virus, as the state has more than 30 testing sites. “We’re asking you to make it a New Year’s resolution,” he said.

Walsh also said that he will be delivering his annual State of the City address next week, but this year it will be “completely virtual.” The event will be on Jnaury 12 at 7L30pm, and will be livestreamed on boston.gov, as well as TV news stations.

“2020 was one of the hardest years in Boston’s history,” Walsh said, and thanked “everyone for doing their part.”

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