Mayor Marty Walsh said Thursday that Boston is planning to crack down on house parties and large gatherings as coronavirus cases continue to rise.
"This is something in response to what we've been seeing in the news -- people gathering and quite honestly, not being responsible," the mayor said. "Right now, under these circumstances, we are going to be cracking down."
Walsh said a team of health, inspectional services, parks and police officials are working to strengthen the city's COVID restrictions around gathering limits, unsanctioned gatherings in public parks and table sizes at restaurants. Spot checks of businesses are among the efforts planned.
He said the team is also focusing on house parties. He said the city has received dozens of calls about house parties in East Boston and other neighborhoods. Anyone concerned about a house party in their neighborhood should call 911, he said.
"We're going to be looking at a system for fining," Walsh said. "Not the landlord, but maybe the landlord and the tenants."
He said that half of the new coronavirus cases in Boston are under the age of 30, a trend that is being seen nationally as well.
"Right now we're at a very critical point in where we are with the coronavirus. We can't get this virus under control without everyone's cooperation," Walsh said.
Boston entered the highest-risk red zone on the state's COVID-19 risk map two weeks ago. Its average incidence rate rose to 11.1 coronavirus cases per 100,000 in this week's new Department of Public Health report, up from 8.5 a week ago.
Walsh announced last week that Boston Public Schools would pause their reopening after the city’s coronavirus positivity rate climbed above the 4% cutoff it had previously outlined. The 1,300 highest-need students are continuing with in-person learning if their parents so choose.
Preschoolers and kindergartners who were scheduled to report to school this week are currently scheduled to start Oct. 22. Grades 4 through 8 are scheduled to transition to a hybrid model the week of Nov. 5, and grades 9 through 12 the week of Nov. 16.
Walsh said no decision has been made yet on whether to put next week's scheduled return to the classroom for preschoolers and kindergarteners on hold. He said the city will continue to evaluate this over the weekend.
Boston public school teachers had sought an injunction to allow them to choose to teach remotely as long as the city’s coronavirus positivity rate remained higher than 4%, but a judge denied that request on Wednesday.