reopening

As Warm Weather Returns, Walsh Warns Bostonians to Remain Vigilant for COVID

Walsh reiterated his plea for residents to refrain from holding parties or other gatherings ahead of St. Patrick's Day.

Boston officials urged 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.

In a press conference, Mayor Marty Walsh said the city's positive test rate had fallen to 3.6%, but that residents and businesses should to continue to take precautions with people expected to head outside to enjoy warmer temperatures.

Officials 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.

Walsh also reiterated his plea for residents to refrain from holding parties or other gatherings ahead of St. Patrick's Day.

"We're appealing to the people of Boston to do the right thing," Walsh said. "We've made so much progress in bringing these numbers down. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. So don't put people at risk because people want to have a party on St. Patrick's Day."

Boston Pride and the City of Boston announced Friday that the 2021 Pride Parade and Festival will not be held in June due to the ongoing state of emergency declared due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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 will keep 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.

Walsh said he would meet with officials Monday to explore the possibility of resuming the city's outdoor dining program before the planned date of April 1.

The program streamlines the permitting process for out door diner and allows restaurants to create patios on the street in cases where sidewalks are narrow.

Walsh's plea to refrain from throwing large parties comes after the organizers of the iconic South Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade said in January the event would be cancelled for a second straight year due to the pandemic.

The mayor has said large gatherings could lead to a super-spreader incident that could set the state back in its reopening process.

Meanwhile, Walsh announced the city’s outdoor dining program would resume on April 1 or earlier, if weather permits.

The program streamlines the permitting process for out door diner and allows restaurants to create patios on the street in cases where sidewalks are narrow.

Fenway Park will welcome fans at the Red Sox home opener on April 1.

If coronavirus metrics keep falling, Baker plans to move to Phase 4, Step 1 on March 22. That's when large indoor and outdoor sports venues, like Fenway Park and TD Garden in Boston, would get the green light from the state to admit fans up to 12% of their capacity.

Boston hasn't committed to joining Massachusetts in Phase 4, Step 1 of the reopening plan on March 22. Instead, city officials will continue to monitor the data to see if it's safe to follow suit that day.

Walsh is in the middle of the confirmation process for his nomination as U.S. secretary of labor. He had his confirmation hearing two weeks ago and his nomination was advanced by the committee last week, though he still must be confirmed by the full Senate.

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