COVID-19

Walsh Extends Boston’s Coronavirus Curfew, Urges Masks for Runners, Bikers

"Even though you're exercising, you need to be wearing a face covering," Walsh said, noting that he's seen many people doing so while breathing heavily

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Boston's coronavirus-related curfew is being extended through May 18, along with the city's public health emergency, Mayor Marty Walsh said at a briefing on the city's response to the virus Wednesday afternoon.

The curfew was implemented April 5. Formally only an advisory, it urges residents to stay home from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Boston and the rest of Massachusetts are continuing to make an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Walsh reiterated the need for people who do go outside to wear masks or face coverings to help stop the virus' spread. He shared a "special message" to people running or cycling outside without them: start doing it.

"Even though you're exercising, you need to be wearing a face covering," Walsh said, noting that he's seen many people doing so while breathing heavily.

"I can't tell you how many runners and bikers I've seen breathing heavily and blowing right passed people with no face covering," Walsh said, after mentioning that at least 333 Bostonians who tested positive for the virus have died. "This is not considerate to the people around you, and I understand why it's making people angry."

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh sends a message to runners and cyclists in a COVID-19 update.

His update came a day after Gov. Charlie Baker extended the state's non-essential business closures and stay-at-home advisory by two weeks, to May 18. On Wednesday, the governor defended the decision.

Walsh backed the extension: "We must move forward together, and I appreciate the governor's thoughtfulness in taking this approach."

The mayor also noted that his chief of staff is one of the members of the governor's new Reopening Advisory Board, which has been tasked with developing a plan for reopening the state, due May 18 as well.

Gov. Charlie Baker extended his order for non-essential business closures and a stay-at-home advisory from May 4 to May 18.

Ahead of the governor's decision earlier this week, Walsh had gotten ahead of it, announcing that the city wouldn't be reopening on May 4, the state's previous shutdown expiration date of May 4, calling it unquestionably "too early."

Walsh announced that several new testing sites are being opened in Boston, bringing the total to 19. They are listed at boston.gov/coronavirus.

And he said that another $10 million has been secured from the federal government, funding that can be used for renters who have lost their income but don’t qualify for unemployment as well as struggling small businesses.

Non-essential businesses in Boston will not be opening back up at the start of next week.

The mayor isn't concerned about getting less federal funding from the government in the future, despite President Donald Trump indicating yesterday that money could be withheld from so-called "sanctuary cities," which don’t cooperate with the federal government on immigration and undocumented residents.

"These suggestions or threats by the White House are uncalled for," Walsh said. "They're not going to solve either the public's health or the immigration challenges that we have in our country."

Walsh said he considers the president's statement a distraction.

"Every time the president gets his back against the wall, he pulls out the sanctuary city card," Walsh said. "He should focus on COVID-19."

He also offered a word of thanks to the people cleaning police stations, fire stations, hospitals, grocery stores, pharmacies and City Hall amid the crisis, making them safer for the others who work there.

"On behalf of the city of Boston, I want to thank you all for your incredible work," Walsh said.

Mask etiquette has been on the minds of people around Massachusetts as the weather warms up but the stay-at-home advisory carries on. Two weeks ago, The Boston Globe even published an article on the subject, featuring a "mask vigilante" who tried to convince runners in Wellesley to cover up.

Walsh was asked Monday if he would consider implementing a fine for those caught not wearing masks in public like Somerville, Cambridge, Belmont and a number of other cities and towns, the mayor said he would only consider that as a last resort.

"We have not taken that step yet," Walsh said then. "I don't want to say I've been hesitant, but I've been trying to ask people to do it voluntarily so I don't have to put restrictions in place. I feel like we shouldn't have to. If we need to, we will."

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