BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — A cruise company has responded to concerns about social distancing aboard one of its vessels, after a photo appeared to show a crowded boat party in Boston Harbor on Saturday evening.
The photo, which was taken by a South Boston resident at 7:15 p.m., showed a Bay State Cruise Company boat docked near Pier 4, with DJ's and dozens of people partying on the top two decks.
The state of Massachusetts has allowed sightseeing and other organized tours like bus tours, duck tours, harbor cruises, and whale watching tours to reopen with restrictions on July 6th, during Phase Three.
According to Bay State Cruise Company, which also operates the Provincetown Fast Ferry, the photo showed their "Provincetown II" vessel, which runs cruises "on Friday and Saturday nights throughout the summer.... with Boston's most entertaining live acts, DJs, and comedy."
On the company's website, BSCC said it had "adopted measures recommended by the CDC and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for operating in the current condition of increased vigilance," which includes "[reducing] the capacity of all Bay State vessels such that six feet of social distancing can be achieved."
After photos of the crowded vessel surfaced on social media, the company told WBZ NewsRadio that the boat had sailed on Saturday night at "33 percent capacity," and that its top deck was at "roughly half its legal capacity."
On its website, BSCC says the boat has a total capacity of 900 people, however a spokesperson said it is "company policy" not reveal the "actual capacity" of the vessel "for security reasons."
BSCC also said Gov. Baker had made it clear that "outdoor areas, like our top deck, do not have reductions in capacity," and “semi-enclosed outdoor spaces” like the middle deck "have limits of 100 persons."
"I assume that lack of regulatory reductions in capacity are because of the benefit of open air," said the spokesperson. "And particularly in the case of a boat, the fact that air is flowing over the deck as we make our way through the harbor."
Since most of the guests were arriving in pairs or groups, BSCC also said peoples' circles of social distance could be "shared."
"As most of the folks that came on board came in couples/trios/groups of four, etc, those 150 separate circles of social distance would become shared, thus making social distance possible for more than 150 people," said a BSCC spokesperson.
MVP Entertainments, which bills itself as "Boston's newest promotion company, covering a variety of establishments," said it had sold out the ticketed boat party on the Bay State Cruise vessel on Saturday July 25th, as part of its "Boat Cruise Summer Series."
When it comes to face coverings, BSCC said its own staff will be wearing masks "at all times," but the company does not mandate the same for its guests.
"We anticipate, and have all read about, this sometimes being a sore topic in our communities," said BSCC. "So, let’s give this a particularly good look ... Governor Baker has issued an Order effective Wednesday, May 6 requiring face masks or cloth face coverings in public places where social distancing is not possible," the company emphasized on its website. "This applies to both indoor and outdoor spaces."
BSCC also lists specific guidance from transportation authorities, saying "MBTA staff cannot ask anyone about the nature of their medical conditions, so we will not refuse service to any person not wearing a face covering."
The cruise company's website also mentions the Town of Provincetown's guidance for wearing face coverings, which is enforced between certain streets in the town, and not on the water.
"Bay State Cruises has adopted these rules and standards from the State and CDC, and, we want to make sure all our passengers are aware of these standards prior to sailing with us," said the company.
MVP Entertainments is selling tickets to another boat party with a DJ, also set to take place on Bay State Cruise Company's Provincetown II boat, on Saturday July 29th.
(Photo: Marty Walz/Twitter)