BOSTON (WHDH) - Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced Monday that Boston will be rolling back its economic reopening for at least three weeks as new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to climb.
Beginning Dec. 16, Boston will move back to Phase 2 of Step 2 of the state’s reopening plan, resulting in the closure of many indoor businesses including gyms and fitness centers, according to Walsh.
“Unfortunately, we are at the point where we need to take stronger action to control COVID-19 in Boston, and urgently, to ensure our health care workers have the capacity to care for everyone in need,” Walsh explained during a news conference. “We are hopeful that by reducing opportunities for transmission throughout the region, we will reduce the spread of this deadly virus and maintain our ability to keep critical services open.”
Hours after Boston Medical Center received its first shipment of coronavirus vaccines, Walsh said establishments that host indoor activities such as museums, aquariums, bowling alleys, movie theaters, batting cages, and driving ranges will be forced to close to limit the transmission of the virus.
Indoor dining will be allowed to continue at restaurants with “strict adherence to guidelines,” Walsh said. Bar seating will not be permitted.
Hair salons, barbershops, offices, and retail shops can remain open with capacity restrictions in place, but Walsh urged employers to allow employees to work from home if possible.
Since Thanksgiving, coronavirus metrics have been trending negative with more ill patients flocking to city hospitals, Walsh noted. The percentage of occupied adult non-surge ICU beds at Boston hospitals has reportedly reached 90 percent.
The citywide positive test rate ballooned to 7.2 percent for the week ending on Dec. 6, up from 5.2 percent for the prior week.
“Today’s rollback is about making individual sacrifices for the greater good,” Walsh said. “Our goal is to bring these numbers down.”
Lynn, Newton, Somerville, Brockton, Winthrop, and Arlington are also taking part in the rollback, according to Walsh.
“We’re not fighting the business community. We’re not fighting the economy. We’re not even fighting the governor or the legislature. We need to be fighting the pandemic,” Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone said, “but we need to be in-synch, lock step and heel in doing that if we’re going to keep people safe; if we’re going to get our economy recovering.”
Walsh begged all residents to refrain from attending or hosting holiday house parties.
“I’m sounding the alarm, letting people know how serious this is,” Walsh said. “This is real concerning for us.”
Between Nov. 8 and Dec. 5, there have been 12,583 new household clusters across the Commonwealth, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Those clusters have led to 31,921 confirmed coronavirus cases.
Last week, Gov. Charlie Baker announced a statewide rollback to Step 1 of Phase 3, but Boston had chosen not to move past that step in July.
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