Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said Boston is ready to begin Phase 3 of the state’s phased reopening plan.
Phase 3 will begin Monday in Boston, one week later than elsewhere around the state, due to Boston’s size and density.
Under the plan, retail and dining establishments will be allowed to open and receive patrons indoors, provided those businesses follow state and city safety guidelines that include maintaining physical distancing, stricter capacity limits, and the use of personal protective equipment by employees.
Some institutions will remain closed to the public for now, including libraries. But, Walsh said, the Boston Public Library will be continuing and expanding its BPL-to-go program, which allows patrons to reserve library materials online and pick them at BPL locations.
Walsh said residents should feel both “caution and confidence” with the plan. But, rising rates of coronavirus infection elsewhere around the country should be seen as evidence of how quickly the virus could return if residents don’t maintain safety and hygienic measures, the mayor added.
“The message about Phase 3 is we can move forward because we’ve been doing the right things in Boston,” Walsh said. “So we have to continue doing the right thing.”
The mayor also spoke of his continued apprehension about whether or how Boston Public Schools might re-open physically this fall, especially with federal relief funding facing an uncertain path in the U.S. Congress. As Walsh has noted, there are substantial logistic and financial hurdles that must be overcome to meet state and city safety guidelines for the BPS’s more than 120 schools.
“There’s no question about it, opening school this year is going to cost more,” Walsh said, as he called on federal lawmakers to pass a relief bill that stalled in the Senate after passing the House of Representatives.
Asked about recent teacher layoffs announced in other municipalities around Massachusetts, Walsh said he has no intention now of laying off teachers.
“Boston hasn’t laid anyone off. I don’t want to lay anyone off, I have no intention of laying anyone off,” Walsh said.
Walsh also repeated warnings about the dangers posed by the nightly volleys of illegal fireworks in recent weeks.
Private fireworks are illegal in Massachusetts, and it’s unclear why neighborhoods have erupted with fireworks so often and seemingly across the city.
The fireworks have provoked a flood of complaints to the Mayor’s Office as well as to city council members, including from elderly residents, veterans and others suffering from what Walsh said is very real “trauma, stress and sleeplessness.”
But they’re also physically dangerous, Walsh said, citing the case of an 11-year-old boy who is now being treated in a hospital for severe burns after using illegal fireworks.
Walsh said the boy’s mother asked him to tell the public “how dangerous this is.”
“We’ve had enough of this," the mayor said. "It’s time to stop. We don’t need another crisis to deal with.”