BOSTON (CBS) – Mayor Marty Walsh declared a public health emergency in Boston Sunday because of the coronavirus pandemic and announced new restrictions on bars, restaurants and clubs to enforce social distancing.
By making such a declaration, it allows the city to “deploy all our resources and personnel necessary to meet the needs at any moment,” the mayor said at an afternoon news conference at City Hall.
Walsh said Boston restaurants, bars and clubs are now being required to reduce their capacity by 50-percent, eliminate lines outside and closing times will now be at 11 p.m. Any violators will be shut down for 30 days, the mayor said. The Licensing Board has been emailing the establishments and asked Boston Police to assist by talking directly to owners.
Delivery and take-out services can stay on their normal hours of operation, according to Walsh.
Hours later, Gov. Charlie Baker announced all bars and restaurants in the state must operate on a take-out/delivery basis only starting on Tuesday. Walsh’s restrictions will remain in place Monday.
Fourteen restaurants and bars in South Boston agreed to shut down for on Sunday, after several of the establishments were crowded with customers Saturday, despite a plea from authorities to practice social distancing to stop the spread of the virus.
The mayor had a message for anyone who is thinking about going out into big crowds.
“This isn’t about you, this is about your fellow Bostonians. It’s about your grandmothers and grandparents. It’s about your neighbors who are sick,” Walsh said. “Social distancing is not a vague, wishful strategy, it’s backed by science and data.”
Walsh has closed public schools in the city of Boston from March 17 until April 27. He said Sunday that the schools will be open Monday to allow students and staff to gather their belongings. The exceptions are the Eliot School campuses and the McKinley elementary school.
The mayor also said that, starting Tuesday, families with Boston students will be able to pick up meals at locations throughout the city.
As of Sunday afternoon, there are 31 cases of coronavirus in Suffolk County.