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Boston Will Not Allow Large Public Events This Summer

City Hall as people gather from the 2017 Boston Pride Parade (Elizabeth Gillis/WBUR)
City Hall as people gather from the 2017 Boston Pride Parade (Elizabeth Gillis/WBUR)

No Fisherman's Feast. No Festival Betances. No Pride parade. No Pops July 4th Spectacular.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh on Friday announced there would be no large gatherings in the city this summer, citing the ongoing need to protect against the spread of the coronavirus.

"I'm announcing today that parades and festivals will not take place this summer in the city of Boston, up to and including Labor Day on Sept. 7," Walsh said during a press conference on Friday.

No events that would involve more than 10 people, or that could draw a crowd, should be planned, the city said. City officials later clarified that no one would be issued a permit from the city for public events that could draw a large crowd.

"This is a public health decision and it’s the right decision," Walsh said.

Walsh said the city would consider allowing smaller events to move forward "on a case by case basis." He said organizers of any events that bring crowds together in close contact should be looking at alternatives.

"These are events that represent our community pride and traditions and cultures, and have a considerable economic impact," Walsh said. "I’m certainly going to miss them, and the city will miss them as well."

An hour after Walsh's announcement, Gov. Charlie Baker said during his daily press briefing that he understood why Walsh decided to cancel these events. Baker said as someone who has marched in many parades in Boston and seen how popular they are, it's hard to imagine "how you would ever deliver on a social distancing standard for one of those."

"I certainly understand why he thinks it would be important for us to get a little bit more ground between us and the coronavirus before something like that would take place," he said.

Baker said a big question will be how to deal with "those big shoulder-to-shoulder, mass of humanity events" that seem antithetical to social distancing guidelines.

"It will definitely be a different kind of summer," he said.

Walsh noted that many organizers have found ways to reimagine their events. Instead of the live concert and fireworks on the Esplanade, the Boston Pops will broadcast "A Boston Pops Salute to Our Heroes."

"I take hope away from people all ready to reimagine these events to inspire us and help us get through these times," he said.

Massachusetts has taken baby steps toward reopening some shuttered businesses in recent days. So Friday's announcement was unpleasant surprise, said Martha Sheridan, president and CEO of the The Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau.

"You know, I would have thought there might have been further monitoring of the crisis, as we move into the summer months and, perhaps, there would be incremental events that could happen," Sheridan said. "But it doesn't seem like that's the case here."

Sheridan said she hopes the Boston Marathon, rescheduled for Sept. 14, will mark a comeback for tourism in the city.

This article was originally published on May 08, 2020.

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