Baker, Walsh agree on new capacities for businesses, homes

Mayor Walsh doubled down on coronavirus restrictions Tuesday, following Gov. Baker’s lead in introducing new limits on gathering capacities for businesses and individuals to better confront the continuing sure in coronavirus cases across the commonwealth.

The mayor’s announcement came a little more than a week after he had renewed restrictions on indoor crowding as numbers spiked following Thanksgiving. 

Baker had announced earlier in the day that, effective Saturday, and for at least two weeks, the state would be lowering capacity limits for most businesses and places of worship to a maximum of 25 percent, restricting outdoor events to 25 people and limiting indoor gatherings, including homes, to 10 people.

“We certainly have to reduce the opportunity for Covid transmission, and that’s ultimately what our goal is. We’re also going to be following the state’s rollbacks on capacity, and that does not change the temporary closures in Boston,” said Walsh. 

In accordance with state guidelines, starting Saturday, restaurants, close- contact personal services, places of worship, indoor golf facilities, and retail spaces in Boston will be reduced to a 25 percent capacity. Office space will be reduced from 40 to 25 percent capacity as well.

“The goal in the rollbacks is to slow the spread of the virus so we can avoid a more severe shutdown later,” said Walsh. 

Tuesday’s Covid report listed 253 confirmed coronavirus cases and 3 deaths, bringing the city’s case totals to 36,476 and 975, respectively. On testing, an average of 5,212 Bostonians were tested daily last week, down slightly from the previous week. An average of 447 positive tests were recorded. 

“Our current community positive rate in the city is 8.8 percent, up from 7.2 from the week before,” said Walsh. “Dorchester, East Boston, and Hyde Park remain the neighborhoods with the highest positive rates. Our case numbers certainly remain concerning to us and our hospital numbers are higher than we would like to see at the moment.” 

The mayor urged all residents to continue to get tested for the virus. “The more people that get tested, the better the idea we have of where the virus is and how it’s affecting our community. We can then work to get the resources out,” he said. 

With the holiday season in full gear and Christmas just a few days away, Walsh urged Bostonians to celebrate only with those in their immediate households and strongly discouraged travel. 

“We are still in a very critical place. This virus does not go away during the holiday season and we all have a responsibility to keep our communities safe,” he told reporters. 

“Our choices now could make a difference in what January and February look like here in the commonwealth and also in the country. I know that it’s been a difficult year for a lot of people, and it’s tempting but bringing people into your household isn’t safe for you, for them, or for the people you come into contact with.” 

With indoor gatherings in the city now limited to 10 people in the city, everyone should be wearing a mask when not eating or drinking, and remain 6 feet apart, said Walsh. “There should be no holiday parties. We strongly encourage all Boston residents not to travel because that increases the chance of getting and spreading Covid-19.”

He added: “We saw it with the Thanksgiving holiday. In the days leading up to it and the days after we saw our numbers get extremely high. Getting tested does not prevent you from getting an infection; you cannot test your way in or out of a safe traditional gathering— it’s still a high-risk activity.

“We still have a long way to go in this crisis, but we have turned the corner in this pandemic, and we certainly have reason to be optimistic with the vaccine out, the mayor said. “Every day, people are getting vaccinated and when the time comes, I ask everyone to follow the lead of our medical health experts and heroes and get the vaccine.

“We are finally at the point where we feel that we have less days ahead of this virus than we do behind us,” he added. “And while we don’t know exactly when this pandemic will end, we do know that there are better days coming.” 

On Monday night, Congress passed a $900 billion-dollar relief package, Walsh thanked the local delegation for their help on that, but said the federal government must do more. “We’re doing everything that we can to reduce the transmission and soften the blow to our economy and we’ve continually called on the federal government to do more. While it’s far from perfect, this bill is a necessary step in the right direction,” he said, adding, “Congress needs to go further to help the American people.”