Acting Mayor Kim Janey tapped the brakes on the drive to loosen pandemic-based restrictions in Boston, saying the city will largely follow a three-week delay in the state's schedule announced Tuesday.
Even as the city aligned with the state's decision to lift the outdoor mask-wearing mandate for April 30, Janey encouraged Boston residents to continue wearing their masks, noting that the city has a higher positive test rate and more higher-risk residents than the state as a whole.
"I think we have seen here in Boston is what has been working, and what is working is wearing our masks and making sure we are keeping our distance, avoiding gatherings, getting tested and getting vaccinated," Janey said. "And that is what I would encourage us to do because that is what has been working."
The city and state will also remain aligned in increasing public gathering capacity to 100 people for indoor events and 150 people for outdoor settings by April 30. The current limits on gatherings at private residences — 10 people for indoors; 25 for outdoors — remain in place for now.
Regarding the state's newly announced measures, the city will employ a three-week delay, resulting in the following schedule:
On June 1:
- Road races and large outdoor athletic events may resume, with staggered start times and written plans for longer races.
- Indoor events that feature singing may resume.
On June 19:
- Capacity increases to 200 people indoors and 250 outdoors for both public and private events.
- Bars and beer gardens will be allowed to open without a requirement for patrons to buy food.
- Festivals and parades will be allowed to operate at 50% of their 2019 capacity.
On Aug 22:
- All remaining businesses may open, and businesses may operate at 100% capacity.
Janey said the schedule she outlined Tuesday would be dependent on a continued positive trend in COVID-19 case data.
Somerville has also announced it will continue to diverge from the state's guidance in places, and will wait to loosen some restrictions until May 7. The new rules would allow movie theaters, bingo halls and other spaces to reopen. It would also allow singing and woodwind music at outdoor venues. Venue limits will increase to 100 people for indoor events and 150 people for outdoor events. A full reopening update is available on the city of Somerville website.