As the State Begins to Reopen, Walsh Continues to Ask for “Caution and Commitment” from Residents

Mayor Marty Walsh held a press conference on Tuesday, a day after Governor Baker released his four phase reopening plan for the state.

Walsh said that as of Monday, Boston had 11,958 cases of COVID-19 and 587 people had passed away. “The number of active cases in the City continues to decline,” he said.

The City continues to ramp up testing in neighborhoods and “continues to build a Citywide strategy.”

Walsh urged residents to keep staying at home and working from home “as much as possible.” He also said that “we need to continue to practice physical and social distancing,” as well as washing hands, disinfecting surfaces, and wearing face coverings in pubic.

“Reopening means bringing the same caution and commitment to stopping the spread,” Walsh said, and “continuing to follow the science and the public health guidance.”

Walsh said that although Baker’s plan allowed for the start of construction on May 18, the City of Boston has implemented a phased plan for the restarting of construction.

Similarly, the governor’s plan allows for the opening of office space starting on May 25, with 25 capacity, but Boston’s offices will not be allowed to reopen until June 1, which Walsh said gives the City more time to “work collaboratively on safety plans.” He said that Boston’s population of roughly 700,000 nearly doubles in size every day as people come in for work, so office space reopening in Boston will be carefully thought out to reduce the spread of the virus as much as possible.

Walsh said that this will include things like continuing to work from home wherever possible, communication with employees, cleaning protocols, ventilation in office spaces, and more.

He said detailed guidelines for office buildings will be released next week.

For small businesses, retail stores will be able to open for curbside pickup on May 25, and the City is “developing creative public space solutions in business districts,” he said.

“Reopening must only happen in a way that’s safe for you, your workers, and your customers,” Walsh said. He added that just because the date will come where businesses are permitted to open doesn’t mean they have to if they do not feel safe doing so. He said that the City will continue to offer assistance and support to small businesses.

Governor Baker’s plan also allowed for the reopening of houses of worship at 40 percent capacity beginning on May 18. “I know that people are missing their in-person services,” Walsh said, but he advised seniors and those at high risk to skip the in person services and connect with their religious leaders to continue participating in services remotely.

For those who will be attending in person services, social distancing should be in effect and face coverings should be worn “at all times.”

Walsh said that the City “will not take steps that put anyone under risk,” and assured residents that the City will “continue to reach out to you with information and resources to help you and your family. Our goal is to not return to what existed before, but build a more equitable and resilient City.”

He also made note of the 46th annual EMS week, saying that Boston’s EMS workers “deserve a special thank you” this year for everything they have done to help keep Boston safe and healthy during this pandemic.

When asked about the Boston Marathon that has been rescheduled for September 14, Walsh said that when the original decision was made to move the marathon, the hope was that COVID-19 would no longer be a health risk. Walsh could not provide any specific updates regarding the marathon, but he said that he is having conversations with stakeholders “on the best way to move forward.”

At Fenway Park, Walsh said that he’d “love to see games played with no fans” this summer as long as players are comfortable doing so, but nothing official has been announced yet.

Walsh urged residents to keep up the work that they have been doing so far to stop the spread of the virus, and he said he appreciates the governor’s phased in approach to reopening the state, which has been criticized by some for being too quick, and by others for being too slow.

“I think the phased-in approach that the governor is taking is a very thoughtful approach,” he said.

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