Walsh Warns Bostonians Against Large Gatherings for St. Patrick's Day

In a press conference, Walsh also announced that outdoor dining in Boston can resume April 1, or earlier if weather permits

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Boston Mayor Marty Walsh on Monday urged residents to refrain from large gatherings for St. Patrick's Day, saying such events could slow the reopening process amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I want to be clear that there should be no large gatherings," Walsh said during a press conference. "We are so close to the finish line, but what we don't need now is a step backwards."

Walsh's plea 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 said large gatherings could lead to a super-spreader incident that could set the state back in its reopening process.

The remarks come as the city moves into a modified Phase 3, Step 2 Monday, 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 will still need to be six feet apart and no more than six people can sit at one table, or for more than 90 minutes.

On Friday -- a day after Massachusetts announced that Phase 3, Step 2 of its reopening plan would begin on Monday -- Boston said it will follow along, with some modifications.

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.

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.

“Outdoor dining contributes to a vibrant, welcoming city, and we’ve seen the benefits outdooring has had on our neighborhoods: supporting local businesses, a safe and enjoyable experience for restaurant patrons, and an added resource for Boston’s small businesses during this challenging time,” Walsh said.

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

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced on Thursday the state's plan for moving into Phase 3, Step 2 on Monday, March 1. Read the state' full plans for it here.

The indoor recreation businesses with higher potential for contact that Boston isn't allowing to reopen until March 22 include laser tag, roller rinks, trampolining and obstacle courses.

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.

But the city of Boston's announcement on Friday didn't commit 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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