BOSTON (WHDH) - Mayor Martin J. Walsh on Tuesday announced that Boston will be extending its COVID-19 closures and restrictions for at least another three weeks. He also warned of taking additional measures if public health data continues to trend negatively.

The citywide positivity rate has jumped to 8.8 percent, up 2.3 percent from the week prior, Walsh said during a news conference at City Hall.

“Our case numbers are concerning…Our hospital numbers are also up higher than we would like to see them,” Walsh said.

Ninety-three percent of adult non-surge ICU beds at city hospitals are currently occupied — the highest percentage Boston has seen in “quite some time,” according to Walsh.

“This is one of the most serious points of the pandemic so far,” Walsh said. “If the numbers don’t improve, we’ll be forced to look at more restrictions.”

On Dec. 16, Boston moved back to to Phase 2 of Step 2 of the state’s reopening plan. In an effort to limit another post-holiday surge, Walsh said Boston will be extending that pause for at least three more weeks.

“This is an effort to slow the spread, protect hospital capacity, and avoid a more severe shut down later,” Walsh said. “We are taking a cautious approach here in Boston.”

Many indoor businesses including gyms, health clubs, fitness centers, movie theaters, event spaces, social clubs, historical spaces, arcades, museums, aquariums, batting cages, bowling alleys, and driving ranges will remain closed to the public.

Indoor dining will be allowed to continue at restaurants with strict adherence to health guidelines and a maximum of 25 percent occupancy. Bar seating will remain off limits.

Private social clubs may continue to operate, as long as they serve food consistent with restaurant guidance.

Hair salons, barbershops, offices, and retail shops can remain open with 25 percent capacity restrictions in place, but Walsh urged employers to allow employees to work from home if possible.

Indoor gatherings will stay limited to no more than 10 people and outdoor gatherings will stay limited to 25 people. The restrictions apply to public and private places.

“We need people to continue to wear masks, we need people to continue to avoid large crowds, and stay six feet apart from each other,” Walsh said. “Every time you do these things, you could be saving a life or your own…We’ll beat this thing if everyone buckles down.”

Walsh noted that the pause will not be lifted until Jan. 27 at the earliest.



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