Boston Mayor Walsh suspends all construction projects, announces library closures

BOSTON (WHDH) - Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh on Monday announced the suspension of all construction projects and the closure of all libraries as the city continues to take steps to guard against the spread of the coronavirus.

Starting Tuesday, regular activity at construction sites in Boston will be suspended until further notice, Walsh said at a press conference. Boston Public Library branches and community centers will also be shuttered.

“These decisions that we make are not easy but they’re out of an abundance of caution,” Walsh said. “It’s about protecting the worker and preventing the spread of the coronavirus.”

Walsh added that all sites must be secured by Monday, March 23. Emergency street repairs and utility work will go on as usual.

All branches of the city’s library system will close at 6 p.m. on Monday and remain closed as long as the public health emergency remains in effect.

Automatic renewals will be expanded during the closure to allow residents to keep books for up to 15 weeks instead of the usual three weeks, Walsh said. Late fees will be waived through May 1 and library card expirations have been pushed back.

The library’s vast collection of resources will be made available online for students to access on Chromebooks that will be issued to those who need them.

“A lot of people use the library as a place to go to get their information. We’re not taking this closure lightly,” Walsh said. “It was a decision that we had to make to ensure the safety of workers in gathering spaces.”

All pools, gyms, and fitness centers at Boston Centers for Youth & Families locations will also be closed. Programming at the centers will be suspended starting on Wednesday.

Walsh also announced the launch of the “Boston Resiliency Fund” to help raise money for people most impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

“There is no doubt that the coronavirus will have longterm impacts on our community. That’s why we’re developing a comprehensive plan to help local families recover in the weeks and months ahead,” Walsh said.

The fund will prioritize the accessibility to food, the health of children and seniors, technology to support at-home learning, and ensuring that healthcare workers and first responders are equipped with the tools they need to combat the virus.

“Boston is a strong and resilient city, full of strong and resilient people,” Walsh said. “We look out for one another. When a challenge arises, we rise to that occasion together.”

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority announced Monday that subway, commuter rail, and ferry service will operate on a reduced schedule until further notice.

Schools in Massachusetts will close for at least three weeks, and all gatherings of more than 25 people will be banned. All dine-in restaurants and bars have also been ordered to close for three weeks.

To make a donation to the resiliency fund, click here.

(Copyright (c) 2019 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)