Boston is moving to a modified version of Phase 4, Step 1 of Massachusetts' reopening plan on Monday, Mayor Marty Walsh said at a news conference Friday.
Boston's version of the state's Phase 4, Step 1 has lower limits on public gatherings, allowing 60 people inside and 100 outside, rather than 100 and 150 respectively. The city will also wait to move beyond the restrictions going into place Monday until its test positivity rate holds below 2.75% for two weeks in a row.
Boston will follow the state on other aspects of the reopening plan, including allowing indoor and outdoor stadiums and arenas like Fenway Park and TD Garden to admit fans up to 12% of their capacity. See a full list of what's reopening in Massachusetts' Phase 4, Step 1 here.
The city of Boston will require large venues to submit a safety plan to its licensing board. The Bruins' first game with fans at TD Garden had been scheduled for Tuesday, but the NHL announced just before Walsh's news conference began that the game was being postponed after four more players entered COVID protocol.
On Monday, the same day that Boston will move to Phase 4, the U.S. Senate is expected to hold a vote to confirm Walsh as the U.S. secretary of labor.
Walsh referred to his nomination on Friday, while talking about how proud he was of Boston's students, teachers and school staff for how they've handled reopening, a process that started March 1.
"One of the things I'm going to miss the most about this job is going and seeing our kids in our schools and watching this last three weeks has just been unbelievable," Walsh said.
He also addressed the deadly shootings in Georgia that left eight people dead, including six women of Asian descent. The mayor called the attacks unquestionably racist and discussed their impact in Boston.
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"I know that this is an emotional and frightening time for many of our Asian neighbors and friends. I want to say, to that end, I stand with you and our city stands with you. We will not tolerate any hate or hate crimes here in the city of Boston," Walsh said.
He noted that he'll hold another news conference on Monday, one where he'll take a wide range of questions.
If Walsh is confirmed, City Council President Kim Janey would become acting mayor until the November mayoral election. She will be the first woman or person of color to hold the office.
Boston's outdoor dining program will begin on Monday as well -- 10 days earlier than had originally been planned due to the weather forecast. But the city's North End has to wait.
Outdoor dining, especially in the North End, was a huge hit when it launched last spring amid the coronavirus pandemic. Restaurants there tend to be smaller in size, and with COVID capacity limits, the extra tables meant more business.
The Boston Licensing Board has said outdoor dining can't start until April 1 in the North End, citing "high density" for the delay.
Boston officials have been urging residents to "double down" on social distancing practices and regularly get tested for COVID-19 to prevent cases from spiking as warmer weather takes hold this spring.
Officials last week said they were taking measures to prevent lines from congregating outside restaurants -- which have a 90-minute limit for indoor diners -- including deploying inspectional services workers to check on eateries.
People should continue to make coronavirus testing a part of their routines, even as more residents get vaccinated, Walsh said. As of March 3, some 10% of the city's population had been fully vaccinated, while 25% had received one dose.
The city earlier this month moved into a modified version of the state's Phase 3, Step 2, with some industries able to reopen up to 50% capacity and restaurants no longer having to cap the number of people inside at one time. However, restaurant tables still need to be six feet apart and no more than six people can sit at one table, or for more than 90 minutes.
Under the modified plan, Boston had kept indoor performance venues and "recreational activities with greater potential for contact" closed until March 22, despite Gov. Charlie Baker giving the green light for those activities to resume. Musical performances in restaurants will also be off the menu until March 22.
The city lists the following activities and venues as still required to close in Phase 4, Step 1:
- Road races, street festivals, parades, and fairs
- Amusement parks, theme parks, outdoor and indoor water parks
- Indoor and outdoor ball pits
- Saunas, hot tubs, and steam rooms at fitness centers, health clubs, and other facilities
- Beer gardens, breweries, wineries, and distilleries
- Bars, dance clubs, and nightclubs offering entertainment, beverages, or dancing without seated food service