Now 164 Coronavirus Cases In Mass, Boston Declares Public Health Emergency

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Mayor Marty Walsh has declared a Public Health Emergency in the city of Boston as the state Department of Public Health released new numbers of coronavirus cases in Massachusetts.

"Effectively today, we are declaring a public health emergency in the city of Boston," Walsh said at City Hall on Sunday. "Declaring a state of emergency will enable us in the city to deploy all our resources and personnel necessary to meet the needs at any moment."

Walsh said the declaration will better facilitate inter-agency work with the Boston Public Health Commission, it will increase cooperation with Boston's hospitals, and it will assist the city in seeking additional resources from the state and federal government.

The Mayor's announcement came almost simultaneously alongside the Massachusetts Department of Public Health announcing new coronavirus numbers for Sunday. There are now 164 cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, up from 138 on Saturday.

119 are presumptive positive cases, 45 have been confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Marty Walsh mayor boston

(Getty Images)

The Mayor also announced new guidance for Boston's bars, restaurants and clubs. "Based on what we saw Saturday, I have directed our licensing board to be proactive about preventing large gatherings," Walsh said, referencing the packed bars in South Boston on Saturday night despite emergency orders against large crowds.

"Moving forward we are imposing these regulations on restaurants, bar rooms and clubs. They are going to be required to reduce capacity to 50 percent."

Walsh said that means reducing table and chair numbers in order to comply with social distancing guidelines from health officials. Establishments will also not be allowed to let lines form outside.

"Closing time as of now will be 11 p.m.," Walsh said. "Violators of this will be shut down for automatically 30 days." The measure is similar to the one announced Sunday afternoon by California Governor Gavin Newsom.

The curfew applies to anyone with a CV license like large restaurants, coffee shops and pizza parlors, but not to take-out, delivery, or drive-thru services which can operate on normal hours.

"Social distancing is not a vague wishful strategy. It's backed by science and data. What we do in our city over the next week or two will make big impacts on the local trajectory of this outbreak and our hospitals' ability to handle it," Walsh said. "It will save lives."

Mayor Walsh said regulations are being lifted to allow any establishment to deliver, even if it does not have a license to do so, in order to keep small businesses going. He also said beer gardens will remain closed until the coronavirus pandemic "is over."

The Mayor also touched on the upcoming closing of Boston Public schools. He said the schools will be open on Monday with two exceptions; The Eliot School campuses in the North End, and the McKinley School in the South End where members of the community are still being tested for coronavirus. All other Boston Public schools will close Tuesday for up to six weeks.

Mayor Walsh also said City Hall is working with childcare providers and employers to assess the level of need for additional childcare resources for BPS families.

"I also have to send a strong message to anyone who is thinking about going out and being in big crowds," Walsh said. "This isn't about you. This is about your fellow Bostonians... It's about your grandparents. It's about your neighbors who are sick.... This is a time of shared sacrifice, and I know firsthand that we are capable of that here in the City of Boston."

WBZ NewsRadio's Kevin Coleman (@KevinColemanWBZ) reports:

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