Mayor Walsh declares public health emergency in Boston

BOSTON — Mayor Marty Walsh announced the Boston Public Health Commission is declaring a public health emergency in the City of Boston due to coronavirus.

RELATED: Mass. Gov. declares state of emergency over COVID-19

This action allows the public health commission to increase the availability of staff and resources that will allow for enhanced reporting, information and resources.

According to a press release sent from Mayor Walsh’s office, he “declared public health emergencies can aid cities in seeking additional resources and support from the state and federal government. Within the Boston Public Health Commission, the declaration allows for internal personnel and resources to be redirected towards the response effort.”

Following the declaration of the public health emergency, Mayor Walsh gave updates on Boston Public Schools and announced new regulations for restaurants, bars and clubs.

Boston Public Schools

Walsh and Boston Public Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius announced that schools will close district-wide from March 17 to April 27.

The Eliot and McKinley Schools will be closed on Monday, March 16.

Food will still be available to students and families who need it.

“The Boston Public Schools is committed to meeting the needs of the community we serve, and that is especially true during times of uncertainty. With all hands on deck we are addressing this emergency head on,” said BPS Superintendent Brenda Cassellius.

You can find a list of meal sites here.

The plan addresses the need for students to receive free options for Internet and access to computers. Many internet service providers including Comcast, have offered discounted or free options that are available to students and families. To supplement the need for computers, BPS has purchased an additional 20,000 Chromebook laptops to make sure every student in need of a device will have access to one. Distribution sites will be set up throughout the city for students in the coming days.

“BPS students are incredibly resilient and we have to do whatever we can to keep ourselves, our friends and our families safe,” said Boston School Committee Student Representative Evelyn Reyes. “The Boston Student Advisory Council looks forward to working with BPS to address student concerns and find creative ways to keep students involved in their school communities during this period.”

Licensed Establishments

Walsh said that, effective immediately, all restaurants, bars and clubs must reduce overall capacity by 50 percent and they must remove tables and chairs to reflect the reduced capacity.

Gov. Charlie Baker later announced more strict regulations, saying in his press conference that restaurants, bars and establishments cannot serve patrons on-site through April 6. Only takeout and delivery is allowed state-wide.

"This order doesn’t apply to grocery stores or pharmacies. This is about bars and restaurants and those places that people do not absolutely have to go,” Baker said.

RELATED: Boston restaurants to close early, cut diners to fight virus

Establishments will not be allowed to have lines outside, and they must close at 11 p.m.

Food drive-through and delivery services are allowed to continue services for their normal business hours.

Any establishments that violate these new restrictions will be subject to a 30-day suspension.

On Sunday evening, Governor Baker announced statewide restrictions that override Mayor Walsh’s ruling.

Under the Baker-Polito Administration’s new restrictions, all on-site consumption of food is permitted. Restaurants can only provide food for consumers who have food delivered or purchase food for take-out.

MORE: Baker announces emergency actions to combat coronavirus in Mass.

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