Coronavirus

With COVID metrics improving, Kim Janey is considering ‘accelerating’ Boston’s reopening timeline

The acting mayor previously defended her decision to reopen the city on a three-week delay behind the state's plan.

Erin Clark/Globe Staff
Acting Mayor Kim Janey. Erin Clark / The Boston Globe

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Acting Mayor Kim Janey said Tuesday her administration is considering how Boston could potentially accelerate its reopening timeline amid improving COVID-19 metrics.

Janey, speaking at a press conference, said the city’s latest public health data — which officials have closely reviewed to guide their decision-making throughout the pandemic — illustrated “encouraging trends” over the past two weeks as more residents received vaccines.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases have dropped 38 percent, with an average of 80.1 new positive cases per day and a 2.4 percent citywide positivity rate, down by 1.3 percent, according to Janey.

COVID-related emergency room visits dropped by 6 percent over the two-week period. As of Tuesday, 75 patients were hospitalized with the virus — one of the lowest totals recorded since the start of the health crisis, Janey said.

“We’re looking at all six metrics that we look at, and in all of those, we are seeing the data trend in the right direction … So it indicates that we are in a much stronger position to loosen some of the restrictions in terms of our timeline,” Janey said.

She intends to make a decision within the coming days, possibly sometime next week, she said.

Also on Tuesday, Janey announced an expansion of in-person services offered at Boston City Hall, the Boston Public Library system, and the Boston Centers for Youth and Families.

Beginning June 7, City Hall will be open to the public by appointment four days a week, with appointments available for Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, according to Janey.

The Boston Public Library will offer “limited in-person” services in June, she said.

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“All of our library locations will prioritize services that help residents with economic and educational recovery, along with summer programs for kids and adults,” Janey said. “In addition, Boston Centers for Youth and Families will align with the Phase Four, Step One of the reopening Massachusetts plan. This move will provide safe and accessible space for young residents and increased children’s programming, including arts and crafts, fitness classes, and game nights.”

Late last month, as state officials scoped out a reopening timeline for Massachusetts, Janey indicated Boston would follow the state’s plan mostly on a three-week delay.

At the end of April, the city caught up to state guidance for event capacity limits of 100 people indoors and 150 people outdoors, over a month after communities across the commonwealth did so. Boston also boosted capacity at indoor and outdoor stadiums to 25 percent and adopted revised mask guidelines at the time.

State officials are aiming for 100 percent capacity in all industries, with no gathering limits, on Aug. 1. Boston, under current plans, will be delayed until Aug. 22.

Facing criticism from fellow mayoral candidates, Janey’s office defended the decision to delay Boston’s reopening last month.

On Tuesday, Janey said she has “always been making decisions that are informed by data, doing what is best for our residents in terms of the public health strategy, understanding that our economic strategy is tied to the public health response and strategy.

“Because we are seeing the data, and that this data is trending in the right direction, we are looking at accelerating our timeline in terms of reopening in the city of Boston,” Janey said.

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