News

Recap of Mayor Walsh’s COVID-19 Press Briefing on May 28th

Did you miss the mayor’s presser today? Don’t worry! Here’s a recap of Mayor Walsh’s COVID-19 press briefing on Thursday, May 28, 2020.

Case numbers: 

  • As of today in Massachusetts: 94,895 cases and 6,640 deaths. 

  • As of today in Boston: 12,634 cases, 627 deaths, and 6,272 recoveries.

  • The Mayor also acknowledged that 100,000 Americans have lost their lives to COVID-19 so far. He said our City’s prayers are with their families, and we think of them every day as we work to contain this cruel virus and prevent as many future deaths as possible. 

Update on the 124th Boston Marathon:

  • The Boston Athletic Association, with the City’s input and support, has determined that the traditional, one-day running of the Boston Marathon is not feasible this year for public health reasons. There is no way to hold the usual race format without bringing large numbers of people into close contact. 

  • The City is supporting the BAA in an alternative approach to the Marathon that allows runners to participate remotely, and allows everyone to celebrate the meaning this race has for Boston’s spirit, for charities, and for the local economy. 

  • The Mayor acknowledged that this is a difficult adjustment, and he is grateful for the work of everyone involved—including the cities and towns along the route, the Governor and the legislature, and sponsor John Hancock. He then asked BAA President Tom Grilk to give more details about the new Marathon event, and what registered runners need to know.

Guidelines for reopening office workplaces:

  • This coming Monday, June 1, is when office workplaces can begin to reopen in Boston, under Phase 1 of the state’s reopening framework.

  • The Mayor noted that this is a date the City of Boston asked for, because of the size of the City’s commercial sector and the unique role Boston plays in the region’s working and commuting patterns. 

  • Today, the City published guidelines for offices on how to keep workers, clients, and customers as safe as possible during a gradual and limited reopening. These guidelines use the state Safety Standards for this sector as a starting point, and are supplemented with recommendations from the CDC, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and industry associations, as well as input from local building owners, property managers, and workers. 

  • The Mayor noted that these guidelines are not mandated, but serve as a detailed and usable best practices framework. The framework, which covers social distancing, hygiene, staffing and operations, and cleaning and disinfection, can be found at boston.gov/reopening

  • The Mayor also urged office workplaces to be cautious about reopening, and protect their workforce. He talked about the guiding principles that apply to the entire reopening process:

    • First, going back to work brings risk. Even with a limited reopening, workplaces must be ready to manage the ongoing risk, and all plans must include mechanisms for scaling back if COVID-19 cases and deaths begin to spike. 

    • Second, everyone who can should continue to work from home. He reminded everyone that nothing close to an old normal will be possible until a vaccine or effective treatment is developed. 

    • Third, equity is essential for effective risk management. He warned that if workplaces don’t plan at every step for the needs of those who are disproportionately impacted, they will see disproportionate impacts that affect the entire workplace. Workplaces must take a complete view of who the workers are that make their offices run, from the front desk staff and custodians up to the CEO. 

  • The Mayor strongly urges all employers, landlords, and property managers to make use of these best practices and guidelines. The City will be taking feedback and adapting it to conditions moving forward, and can help answer any questions about how to implement them. He also encouraged offices outside of Boston to download and use these guidelines as well. 

  • The City will also be consulting with the new Boston Reopening Advisory Board on safety and recovery needs in offices and other sectors of the economy. This is a diverse group of leaders from business, health care, education, labor, arts, and faith communities.

Update on City Hall hours and City resources:

  • Boston City Hall will be open this coming Monday, June 1st to accommodate the extended June 1st property tax deadline the City put in place to provide flexibility for homeowners. Staff will be available on a walk-in basis to answer questions and process payments. However, the Mayor encouraged residents to make their payments at boston.gov or by calling 311. 

  • This is a one-time change, and City Hall will remain open to the public, by appointment, on Tuesdays and Fridays only. You must wear a face covering when entering the building and will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms.

  • The Mayor also reminded small businesses that Phase 1 applications for the first round of the Boston Reopen Fund go live this afternoon at 5 pm. More information can be found at boston.gov/reopenfund. The $6 million Fund is a new resource to help small businesses minimize risk and manage economic recovery during reopening. 

New steps to improve health and safety in public spaces:

  • The Mayor announced “Healthy Streets”, a package of changes to improve social-physical spacing in Boston’s neighborhoods, help workers and small businesses recover, and continue the work the City was doing before the crisis to make public space in Boston more safe, accessible, and healthy. These measures are “quick-build” projects that can be adapted and adjusted based on their success and community feedback. Details can be found at boston.gov/healthystreets

  • Expanding bus stops and bus lanes: Working with the MBTA, the City is increasing space at bus stops on busy routes used by workers—including in East Boston, Mattapan, Roxbury, South Boston, and downtown. We’re also putting in a new bus lane on Washington St. and upgrading the bus lane on Essex Street, for the Silver Line through Chinatown. 

  • Building dedicated bike lanes: The first phase will connect downtown job centers to our existing citywide bike lane network. We’re starting with at least 8 sections of road, connecting downtown, Back Bay, and the South End. These are dedicated lanes that are comfortable for new bike riders, families, essential workers, and commuters. We also continue to study opportunities for opening up lanes to pedestrians on some neighborhood streets, and more details are forthcoming.

  • Outdoor seating for restaurants: The Mayor noted that, as of this morning, 264 establishments in Boston have expressed interest in seating on the sidewalk or parking lane, and we are reviewing the requests. As the State continues to develop a timeline and framework for restaurant reopening, the City is ready to help, where it can, to make those expansions safe when the time comes. 

New round of funding from the Boston Resiliency Fund:

  • The Mayor announced the latest round of grants from Boston Resiliency Fund. This week, the Fund is giving grants to 20 organizations totalling over $780,000. In keeping with the City’s commitment to equity, 60% of these organizations are led by a person of color and 45% are led by women. 

  • These grants will help:

    • Bring food to seniors and homebound families, with groceries and meals that are fresh, nutritious, and culturally appropriate. 

    • Expand COVID-19 testing in the South End with the South End Community Health Center.

    • Fund organizations that support people experiencing homelessness, like Project Place and Circle of Hope. 

  • In total, the Fund has given out over $19 million to more than 230 organizations so far, and continues to accept donations.

New funding to support Boston’s immigrant communities:

  • The Mayor also announced new contributions totalling $1.75 million to the Boston Immigrant COVID-19 Collaborative. 

  • Major donations are from the Klarman Family Foundation and the Open Society Foundation—as part of its global initiative to combat the effects of COVID-19 in vulnerable communities around the world. Additional support is coming from the United Way, Cradle to Career Grants, the Fireman Family, and Tomfohrde Foundation. 

  • The Collaborative was launched with $650,000 from the Resiliency Fund and partnerships with the Brazilian Workers Center, Agencia ALPHA, and Rian Immigrant Center, and has grown to include 13 organizations that have been able to serve 20,000 families. 

  • The Mayor described the impact of the Collaborative, and the support it’s been able to provide. He gave examples of immigrants who came here asking for nothing more than a chance to work hard, and COVID took that from them. He said providing some support, to help them get through a hard time, is the least our City can do. 

  • The Mayor expressed his anger about reports of discrimination, especially against Asian Americans, during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. He said Boston won’t stand for that, and it’s not how a strong community reacts to hard times. The Boston community stands together as a proud city of immigrants. 

A special tribute to Billy Boyle:

  • The Mayor recognized Billy Boyle, a veteran and a retired firefighter from Charlestown, as today’s unsung hero. He passed away yesterday, and the City’s thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. 

  • He noted that May is national Older Americans Month, and the theme for 2020 is “Make Your Mark.” It’s a way to celebrate the contributions that older adults made, and continue to make, in our communities, and Billy embodied that spirit.

  • He said Billy made a positive impact everywhere, including as a charter member of the Bunker Hill Associates and a founder of Charlestown Against Drugs. 

  • He acknowledged that Bunker Hill Day in Charlestown will be different this year, but Billy’s legacy will help keep that fighting Charlestown spirit alive for generations to come. 

Please also note the update below from the Boston Fire Department regarding permits:

Due to the harsh economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses, the Boston Fire Department is extending the expiration date on all existing Place of Assembly and Annual Permits from June 30, 2020 to September 30, 2020.  Any issued Place of Assembly Permit or Annual Permit stating an expiration date of June 30, 2020 will now automatically  be valid in the City of Boston until September 30, 2020.  The invoices for renewal will be mailed out in mid-August, and the permitting cycle for both Place of Assembly and Annual Permits will become October 1 to September 30 of the following year from this point forward. 

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About the Author

Maureen Dahill

Maureen Dahill is the editor of Caught in Southie and Caught in Dot and a lifelong resident of South Boston sometimes mistaken for a yuppie. Hockey mom, yoga enthusiast, lover of red wine and binge watching TV series. Mrs. Peter G. Follow her @MaureenCaught.