Boston is following Massachusetts' lead in reopening from COVID regulations, but with a three-week delay on many of the changes, Mayor Kim Janey announced Tuesday.
Boston, like Massachusetts, will on Friday drop the requirement that people wear masks when outside and at a safe distance from others. And the city will allow public gatherings to increase in size on that day too, to 100 people indoors and 150 outdoors.
The city will also align with the state on sports stadium capacity, which rises on May 10 to 25%.
Other measures, like the return of nearly regular bar service, street festivals and the ultimate lifting of COVID regulations for all businesses will be pushed back by about three weeks from the state's plan, Janey said. For example, where Massachusetts plans to lift all business regulations Aug. 1, Boston plans to do so Aug. 22.
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"We are a denser community than many other municipalities or towns across the commonwealth, and we have vulnerable populations here. As we continue to get folks vaccinated, we hope to continue to see the data trending in the right direction and we will continue to loosen restrictions," Janey said at city hall.
She said numbers were trending in the right direction, a test positivity rate of 3.6% and fewer emergency room visits as well. More than 55% of city residents 16 or over have gotten at least one shot of the vaccine.
Her announcement came hours after Gov. Charlie Baker announced his administration would lift Massachusetts' outdoor mask mandate on Friday and the next steps in its own reopening plan.
Statewide, May 10 brings the reopening of some businesses, like amusement parks and water parks. Then, on May 29, gathering limits will go up to 200 people indoors and 250 outdoors while bars, beer gardens and wineries can reopen without having to serve food.
By Aug. 1, all other businesses will be allowed to reopen without capacity limitations. (Read the full guidelines for Massachusetts here.)
Boston has often moved at a slower pace in reopening than the rest of the state, and the final steps addressed Tuesday are no exception.
With the exception of the stadium capacity guidelines, Boston is making Massachusetts' May 10 changes on June 1. That's when road races, tournaments and other outdoor sports events can go forward and when singing can return indoors, with some restrictions.
June 19 is when Boston will follow suit on the state's May 29 changes: seated service at bars, beer gardens, wineries and distilleries; street festivals and parades at 50% capacity; restaurants will be able to serve alcohol without also serving foods, and they can serve as many as 10 people per table.
Finally, all business restrictions will be lifted in Boston on Aug. 22, if the public health situation allows for it.
"As we enjoy even more of our city through this reopening, please don't forget the basics that keep us safe," Janey said.
The city is also opening up dialogue with small business owners to help work through the reopening plan, including weekly office hours.