On Sunday, April 5, Mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh, announced stricter social distancing guidelines for residents of the city of Boston.
Mayor Walsh announced two major measures that he is enacting: a citywide curfew and a recommendation that all Boston residents wear face masks or coverings any time they leave their homes. Both measures are recommended, and both measures took effect on Monday, April 6. They are currently set to remain in place until May 4, alongside Governor Baker’s stay-at-home advisory.
The citywide curfew was issued by the Boston Public Health Commission as a public health advisory. The curfew takes place from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., and includes all city residents except for essential workers. Mayor Walsh urges those ordering takeout from a restaurant to use delivery services after 9 p.m.
Mayor Walsh’s instructions regarding the usage of face coverings guide city residents to don a covering that will cover “your mouth, your nose, and allow you to breathe comfortably.” Walsh explained that coverings may include any type of cloth, a scarf or a bandana. This urging corresponds to a recommendation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) that was released Friday, April 3.
On the morning of Wednesday, April 8, the University of Massachusetts Boston University Health Services sent out an email regarding this protocol. In the email, Executive Director of University Health Services, Robert Pomales, explained the CDC’s new recommendation, reiterated that those required to work on campus are urged to follow the CDC guidelines, and advised the entire campus community to adhere to CDC recommendations and state and local orders.
Despite urging face covering, Mayor Walsh emphasized the fact that covering does not protect from infection, saying that “physical distancing is still 100 percent necessary,” and recommended that people stay six feet apart from each other even while wearing face coverings. Still, Mayor Walsh stated that “face coverings will help slow the spread of the virus.”
Mayor Walsh also announced that City Hall will only be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays by call-ahead appointment only. He continued by saying that everyone who enters Boston City Hall, including employees, “will be subject to screening for the COVID symptoms.”
Mayor Walsh also urged developers and general contractors to “put people before profits,” and halt construction unless absolutely necessary. The mayor said: “We are at the beginning of the surge. Every step we take to limit the number of people working together will make a difference.”
The city has also closed sports facilities at city parks, including basketball, street hockey, and tennis courts. Walsh expressed that people are continuing to gather in public, in groups, and said: “We simply have to take that option away.” The mayor assured the public that access to open space will still be available for walks or runs, however social distancing protocols must be followed. The mayor asserted that “no group activities should be taking place anywhere.”
Additionally, Mayor Walsh reminded the public that “police officers are empowered to disperse gatherings under the state advisory.” He emphasized the fact that police officers “can and will issue violations,” but followed that comment by saying that it “shouldn’t have to come to that.”
According to NBC10 Boston, Walsh’s administration has been considering an enforced, mandatory curfew or stay-at-home order. Reportedly, he told the station that that would be “the last resort but we’re headed towards that."