Walsh says Boston’s public health emergency will not be lifted in ‘near future’

BOSTON (WHDH) - Massachusetts’ economy could begin reopening Monday under Gov. Charlie Baker’s four-phase plan to a “new normal” but Mayor Martin J. Walsh said Friday that Boston’s public health emergency will remain in place until further notice, even if non-essential businesses start to commence operations amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We will continue to make our decisions for Boston, based on data and the needs of our residents and the workers in our city,” Walsh said during a news conference at City Hall. “I want to be clear about a couple of things. One is the public health emergency that was declared on March 15 in the city of Boston remains in place until further notice. We will not be lifting it up next week or in the near future.”

Guidelines for practicing social distancing, limiting gatherings to 10 or fewer people, and wearing a face-covering in public will also remain in effect in Boston, he said.

Walsh made the announcement after revealing the results of a new Massachusetts General Hospital study that found one in 10 Boston residents had developed coronavirus antibodies and about one in 40 asymptomatic individuals were positive for COVID-19 and potentially infectious.

“Everyone is deeply concerned about the economic impacts. I share those concerns too, but the fastest and the most sustainable way out of this situation is a healthy way,” Walsh explained. “We simply can’t afford any unnecessary setbacks. If we come back too soon, there will be a second surge.”

Walsh stressed that his administration is basing every future decision on science-based facts.

“All the decisions that we make here about reopening and moving back are going to be decisions based on facts, based on science,” Walsh said.

Walsh said that he wants to see people coming back to a bustling city, people dining in restaurants again, people shopping at retail stores, and games at Fenway Park, TD Garden and Gillette Stadium, but he acknowledged that those things aren’t something that society can “just jump right back into.”

Walsh urged all Bostonians to be understanding of the fact that frontline workers, seniors, and people with pre-existing conditions will still be at risk contracting coronavirus when the economy begins to reopen.

Details on the state’s reopening plan will not be made public until Monday, Baker has repeatedly said. It’s also not clear if the stay-at-home advisory will be lifted.

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