BOSTON (State House News Service) — Boston officials plan to tighten enforcement of COVID-19 regulations, potentially involving fines on residents who hold unsafe house parties or those who play recreational sports without masks, Mayor Martin Walsh announced Thursday.
With the city still in the state's highest-risk designation and its average rate of infections climbing, Walsh said several departments are working on plans to start "cracking down" on those who do not follow restrictions.
"If we don't do what we need to do and we don't start to take responsibility as individuals, we're going to be in a potential case where I have to stand at this podium and talk about shutting down the city again," Walsh said at a press conference. "I don't think I have to explain to anyone the implications of having to shut down the city of Boston again and the implications of what that would mean to our businesses, our seniors, our constituents, the residents of our city, the residents of our commonwealth."
Walsh did not outline enforcement specifics or how fines would be calculated, but said the new policies will be rolled out once collaborating departments -- including the city's Public Health Commission, Parks Department, Health and Human Services, and police -- reach an agreement.
He said targets include enforcing gathering limits, preventing unpermitted public events and unsanctioned activities in parks, and ensuring that restaurants properly space out tables. Walsh also warned he would close city parks if needed.
Officials are giving "special attention" to house parties, Walsh said, citing South Boston as an area of concern. Both tenants and landlords could be subject to fines for house parties, he said.
The limit for indoor gatherings is 25 people under the Baker administration's regulations, but Walsh suggested residents take additional steps to keep events even smaller than that with no more than five unrelated individuals in a room where distancing is impossible.
"When you're talking about a house party, nobody's preparing with Plexiglass and spacing and everyone six feet away from each other," he said.
By Chris Lisinski, State House News Service