BOSTON (AP) — Boston will move cautiously to avoid a second shutdown as the state begins to reopen, Mayor Marty Walsh said at a Tuesday press conference.
“We will continue to be guided by fact-based science, and we will not take steps that put anyone at undue risk,” Walsh said a day after Gov. Charlie Baker outlined a plan to gradually restart the economy.
Walsh said he was leery about one part of the plan which would let Boston offices bring back workers at 25% capacity starting June 1.
“I’m personally not comfortable with 25%,” Walsh said. “I think 25% the first day is too much.”
Walsh said he understands the economic hit to many businesses, but said the city can’t afford a second shutdown if COVID-19 cases spike.
Newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts dipped below 900 Tuesday, bringing the total number of people who have tested positive for the disease caused by the coronavirus to nearly 88,000.
There were 76 new COVID-19-related deaths reported Tuesday, bringing the number of deaths to 5,938.
There were fewer than 2,500 people currently hospitalized with the disease, down from more than 3,500 two weeks ago. The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care also fell to fewer than 700, down from more than 900 two weeks ago.
The number of deaths at long-term care facilities in Massachusetts stood at 3,617 — about 61% of all COVID-19-related deaths.
Walsh also said Tuesday that the city is talking with Boston Marathon organizers about what to do if the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t eased by the race’s proposed new date of Sept. 14.
The mayor said the decision to reschedule the marathon from April to September was made with the hope that the disease “would no longer be a significant public health risk.”
While Massachusetts is planning to lift its ban on some businesses and activities next week, large public gatherings have been banned through Labor Day — a week before the race’s new date.
The marathon field was scheduled to include more than 30,000, and even a stripped-down race of just a few hundred elite runners would mean hundreds or thousands of volunteers and officials and thousands more fans lining the 26.2-mile (42.2-kilometer) course.
A Boston Athletic Association spokeswoman said the organization is considering all options but will be guided by public health officials recommendations.
PRESSLEY QUESTIONS BAKER PLAN
U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley is pushing back against Gov. Charlie Baker’s plan to restart the state’s economy.
“MA isn’t ready to ‘reopen,’” the Massachusetts Democrat tweeted Tuesday. “Policy decision that offer a false choice between public health & economic recovery will hurt our communities.”
Pressley urged the Republican “to re-evaluate his timeline & invest in the supports needed to keep our families safe."
“I have been on the phone with families worried about children, faith leaders concerned it is not safe to gather, and small businesses worried about their workers’ health & access to PPE,” she wrote.
RELIGIOUS LEADERS URGE CAUTION
Some religious leaders are urging caution even after Gov. Charlie Baker allowed houses of worship to resume in-person services, provided protocols designed to curb the transmission of the coronavirus are followed.
“Churches are designed to be places of healing, not sources of sickness," said the Rev. Laura Everett, executive director of the Massachusetts Council of Churches and the Rev. Jennie Barrett Siegal, the organization's president, in a written statement Monday.
The council is a coalition of 18 Protestant and Orthodox denominations.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston announced Monday that parishes can resume Mass as of Saturday, but that churches will be limited to 40% of their capacity. Parishioners also must maintain social distancing, wear masks and avoid contact.
Vulnerable people are encouraged to continue watching from home, the church said.
A gym owner in the town of Oxford said he's reopening his business in defiance of Baker's plan to gradually restart to economy.
Under Baker's plan gyms wouldn't be allowed to reopen for many weeks.
“We’re going to do things in two simple phases, since faker Baker doesn’t want to announce any of his,” Dave Blondin, owner of Prime Fitness and Nutrition in Oxford, said in a Facebook post, Fifty members will be allowed in the gym at a time — 25 upstairs, 25 downstairs — for up to one hour, he said.
The phased reopening outlined Monday by Baker is designed to guard against a resurgence of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Blondin also dismissed the wearing of masks, something Baker said helps limit the spread of the disease.
“Please, for the love of God, do not wear a mask in here,” he said. “I do not need people passing out because they cannot breathe.”
BOWLING ALLEY CLOSES
The last candlepin bowling alley in the Massachusetts city where the sport was invented is closing, and management says the coronavirus pandemic is to blame.
Colonial Bowling Center in Worcester is shuttering for good, manager Paul Wambach told The Telegram & Gazette on Monday.
The fall to spring season provides most of the alley’s revenue, Wambach said, but the business has been closed since March. Summer leagues usually start in April.
Candlepin bowling was invented in Worcester in 1880, according to the International Candlepin Bowling Association.
AP Sports Writer Jimmy Golen contributed to this report