Boston Officials Urge Curfew, Ask People to Wear Masks Outdoors

April 6, 2020 Updated: April 6, 2020

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced strict new measures for social and physical distancing in a bid to reduce an expected surge in COVID-19 infections in the city.

“I cannot stress enough that the actions we take now through the next several weeks will help curb the spread of this virus, and save lives,” Walsh said in a statement after the city saw its largest one-day jump in reported cases.

The new measures, which will be effective through May 4, include closing recreational sports areas in city parks, recommending a curfew between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., and urging everyone to wear a covering over their mouth and nose when in public.

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A woman wears a stars and stripes bandana for a face mask, amid COVID-19 fears, in Washington, D.C., on April 2, 2020. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

The curfew, detailed in a public health advisory issued by the Boston Public Health Commission on April 5, asks residents and visitors to the Boston area to refrain from leaving their homes at night for practically any reason, including for “obtaining necessary services or supplies for themselves and their family or household members.”

Only those providing “essential services” related to the outbreak are exempt.

That’s in addition to earlier recommendations that residents should remain in their homes during the day as much as possible and only leave for essential needs, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy.

“At this very critical time, we must do everything we can as Bostonians to protect one another. This is bigger than any one person—this is about the greater good of our people. Stay safe, stay inside, and let’s get through this together,” Walsh said.

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Wearing a mask and using a stick to keep his distance amid the COVID-19 outbreak, a jobless man panhandles at an intersection in Falls Church, Va., on April 3, 2020. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Regarding enforcement, Walsh said police wouldn’t be enforcing the curfew, since it’s just an advisory, but he told NBC10 Boston that he’s considered stricter measures.

“It’s not normal for me to get up here and scare the people of Boston as the mayor,” Walsh said at an April 5 press conference. “But this is not a normal situation. This is a moment that we need people’s attention.”

At the press conference, Walsh said police officers are empowered to break up gatherings, but he hoped people would follow requirements voluntarily.

“They can and will issue violations, but it shouldn’t have to come to that,” Walsh said, WBUR reported.

The public health advisory noted: “All reasonable efforts will be made to secure voluntary compliance with this Advisory. The Executive Director may seek the assistance of other City of Boston agencies in encouraging compliance.”

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Healthcare workers wheel the bodies of deceased people from the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center during the outbreak of COVID-19 in New York City on April 4, 2020. (Reuters/Andrew Kelly)

Public health models indicate Boston is 11 days away from peak demand for hospital resources, and the new measures intend to flatten the curve of the outbreak in the area, officials said.

Boston now has 1,877 confirmed cases and 15 deaths attributed to the CCP virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus. That’s an increase of 259 cases from April 4.

“That’s what a surge looks like, and we’re still at the beginning of the surge,” Walsh said of the figures, according to local news outlet WBUR.

Also, the Boston area has also seen an increase in the severity of COVID-19 cases among young people. As of April 5, nearly 45 percent of positive tests in Boston are in people under the age of 40, while almost 80 percent of COVID-19 infections have been confirmed through tests in people under the age of 60, officials said.

“This is an unprecedented situation. It’s asked a lot from us,” Walsh said, WBUR reported. “It’s going to ask more from us over the next few weeks.”

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