‘We are at the beginning of the surge’: Marty Walsh announces recommended curfew, other new social distancing measures

"As I’ve said before, this is an unprecedented situation. It has asked a lot from all of us. It’s going to ask more from us over the next few weeks.”

BOSTON MA. APRIL 5: Mayor Marty Walsh wears a mask after speaking during a media availability outside City Hall to discuss updates relating to COVID-19 on April 5, 2020 in Boston, MA. (Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)
Mayor Marty Walsh wears a mask after speaking Sunday. –Nancy Lane / MediaNews Group / Boston Herald, Pool

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has announced a recommended curfew for the city for the next four weeks, and is asking everyone to wear a mask at all times when leaving home.

All sports facilities in city parks have also been ordered closed, and City Hall will be open fewer hours. All of these changes go into effect Monday morning, Walsh said in a press conference Sunday afternoon. They are planned to lift on Monday, May 4.

Walsh announced the new, stricter social distancing guidelines in anticipation of a surge in cases of COVID-19.

“What the data continues to show is that right now, every single day is critical to saving lives in our city,” he said.

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As of Sunday afternoon, the city had 1,877 cases with 181 people recovered and 15 deaths. The new positive cases over the last two days number 511, which represents 27 percent of the city’s cases overall.

“That’s what a surge looks like,” Walsh said. “And we are still at the beginning of the surge. As I’ve said before, this is an unprecedented situation. It has asked a lot from all of us. It’s going to ask more from us over the next few weeks.”

Curfew

The recommended curfew, which doesn’t apply to essential workers, will be in effect from 9 p.m. until 6 a.m., Walsh said.

“We have been seeing too many unnecessary trips in the evenings and social distancing problems as people order and wait for their takeout at restaurants,” he said, adding people should opt for delivery after 9 p.m.

Walsh noted that people are urged to only go out overall for essential reasons, like visiting a grocery store or pharmacy. He stressed that when doing these things, people shouldn’t be in groups, should not be socializing or browsing, and should only be picking up what they need. Residents should then return home.

Masks

Residents are being asked to wear masks or face coverings at all times when outside their homes, and that includes shopping trips, as well as going for walks. While he noted that a mask may not protect you from getting COVID-19, Walsh said about 25 percent of infected people are asymptomatic.

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“So the more of us who wear coverings, the more effective this strategy will be,” Walsh said, adding that “medical-grade masks” should be preserved for health care workers and responders. “The covering can be a scarf, bandana, or other types of cloth that covers your mouth and nose and allows you to breathe comfortably.”

The guidance follows recent federal recommendations.


Walsh: Wear masks outside, observe curfew between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.


Limited City Hall hours

City Hall will only be open on Tuesdays and Fridays, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., starting this Tuesday, Walsh said. And it will be closed Friday, April 10, due to the Good Friday holiday.

Those headed to the facility will be screened, including having their temperature taken, upon entrance, and an appointment is still required.

Closure of city sports facilities

Sports facilities at city parks are all planned to close, including athletic fields, basketball and street hockey courts, Walsh announced.

“You will still have access to the open spaces for passive recreation where you can practice physical distancing, as you walk or run,” he said. “But no group activities should take place anywhere, including group fitness classes.”

Walsh further noted that the police have the ability to break up groups, but said “it shouldn’t have to come to that.”

“People are continuing to gather, and we simply need to take that option away,” he said, adding you can call 311 to report people congregating in parks.

Construction

While the mayor noted that the pause on nonessential construction remains, he added that even if a job is allowed to move forward during current guidelines, companies should consider stopping it anyway.

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“We are at the beginning of the surge,” he said. “Every step we take to limit the number of people working together will make a difference. If you can wait a few weeks, wait a few weeks. Use common sense.”

Walsh asked people to use the new measures as a way to empower themselves in the fight against the virus.

“I am not willing to look back two weeks or four weeks from now, and look at that number, thinking that we could have done more,” he said. “We must act now. All of us.”


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