Walsh Warns of ‘Swift Action' on Restaurants Failing to Obey Capacity Limits

The mayor said the "vast majority" of restaurants are following the rules, but some violators have had their licenses suspended

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh on Wednesday urged restaurants to follow COVID-19 protocol, warning the city would take swift action on businesses failing to follow capacity limits or other rules.

While the "vast majority" of restaurants were following the rules, Walsh said some had lost their licenses after inspectional services officers found violations.

"Nobody wants to shut a restaurant down, including myself, but if need be, we will," Walsh said. "We're doing everything we can to help local businesses... but the health a safety of our residents must come first."

Walsh gave the example of one diner who called the city Friday to report a restaurant that was not adhering to the capacity limit -- leading to the business' license being suspended.

The mayor said the city had received over 2,000 complaint about restaurants allegedly not following COVID-19 protocol.

Restaurants in Boston are allowed to operate at 40% capacity as part of Phase 3, Step 1 of the state's reopening plan.

Walsh also asked diners to continue to follow social distancing and hygiene guidelines when visiting restaurants, including wearing masks when not eating, refraining from mingling with other tables and only dining with those within a person's bubble of close contacts.

Meanwhile Walsh continued to urge all eligible residents to get vaccinated for COVID-19, despite ongoing scrutiny over the state's rollout of the vaccination process.

Boston has mass vaccination sites at Fenway Park and the Reggie Lewis Center and Walsh said by Friday there would be eight pharmacy locations administering the vaccine.

Senior citizens can all 311 and ask for the "Aid Strong Commission" if they need help obtaining a vaccination slot.

Walsh said 40 percent of slots at the Reggie Lewis Center in Roxbury are reserved for organizations serving communities of color and vulnerable populations.

Walsh hasn't held a COVID-19 press conference since Jan. 26, when he announced the city would be entering Phase 3, Step 1 of Massachusetts' COVID-19 reopening process on Feb. 1.

He said he move was made possible by continued positive trends in the city's coronavirus data after he hit pause on the reopening process in December.

Since that time, cases and hospitalizations in Boston have continued to trend downward. As of Tuesday, the 7-day average active cases was 4,538, down from 7,545 in mid-January.

Movie theaters, gyms and other businesses in Boston will be allowed to reopen starting Monday.

A total of 55,404 cases and 1,196 deaths have now been reported since the start of the pandemic.

Since his last press conference, Walsh appeared before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions in Washington, D.C., to answer questions about his qualifications for the job of U.S. Secretary of Labor.

Walsh was tapped by then-President-elect Joe Biden to lead the department last month.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, nominated as President Joe Biden's labor secretary, faced a Senate confirmation hearing Thursday.

Also since he last spoke, the mayor's pick to replace retiring Police Commissioner William Gross -- Dennis White -- was placed on leave just days after being sworn in after domestic violence allegations from more than 20 years ago surfaced.

Walsh did not mention White's situation during the press conference and did not take questions.

In 1999, according to court paperwork, White allegedly pushed and threatened to shoot his then wife, who was also a police officer. The wife told police at the time  “he may come inside and kill me because he’s angry.” 

Divorce paperwork also alleges White told his daughter not to “startle me when you come up, cause I sleep with a gun under my pillow.” 

After just two days on the job, Boston's new police commissioner has been put on leave over decades-old domestic violence allegations came to light.

White denied the allegations at the time and a judge issued a restraining order against him, ordering him to stay away from his family and surrender his service weapon.

Walsh said in a statement that White “was asked to quickly step into the role of Police Commissioner” and that neither he nor his staff were aware of these “disturbing issues.”

“Upon learning of these serious allegations, I immediately acted, placing the Commissioner on administrative leave, while corporation counsel engages outside counsel to conduct a full and impartial investigation,” the mayor added.

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