Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Boston Reopening, Testing, Renters Rights & Fresh Truck Open Air Market

The City of Boston has 12,050 positive cases of coronavirus (confirmed and presumptive). So far, 5,121 of these 12,050 residents have fully recovered. Unfortunately, there have been 588 COVID-19 related deaths in Boston. 

There are 397 cases in South Boston. (10 more cases since last week's 387 cases) and 1,658 people have been tested in South Boston.

Massachusetts has 87,052 positive cases of coronavirus (confirmed and presumptive) and 5,862 deaths reported at this time. Massachusetts has also tested 460,826 individuals to date. 

Last week, the citywide positive test rate was 13.9%. This was a new low and brings the city’s cumulative positive test rate to 27%, down 2 percentage points from the week before. The City has continued targeted outreach and testing in neighborhoods seeing the most cases, and as a result, those communities’ positive rates continue to go down.
The City also continues to build a citywide strategy for increased testing, which includes an effort that starts next week to test all first responders. 
Overall, the data tells us that we have been moving in the right direction on new cases, positive test rates, and hospitalization for about 3 weeks. 
Every data trend gives a reason for caution, in terms of how gradual our progress is, how necessary our precautions have been, and how much potential there is for new outbreaks if we don’t keep doing the right things. 

On May 15, Mayor Walsh, together with Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC), announced the study to evaluate community exposure to COVID-19 through a representative sampling of asymptomatic Boston residents resulted in 9.9% testing positive for antibodies and 2.6% of currently asymptomatic individuals testing positive for COVID-19
  • Approximately 1 in 10 residents in this study have developed antibodies and approximately 1 in 40 currently asymptomatic individuals are positive for COVID-19 and potentially infectious.
  • Learn more about the study here
Mayor Walsh announced that Boston has been selected as a founding city for the Rockefeller Foundation’s COVID-19 Testing Solutions Group, along with L.A., Detroit, Miami, and New Orleans. This is a group of cities, states, and tribal governments that are sharing best practices and getting access to technical assistance for testing expansion.

REOPENING: Implementing Phase 1 of the State’s Reopening Plan in Boston
On Monday, May 18, the Governor launched Phase 1 of a statewide reopening plan.The Mayor stressed that reopening does not mean “back to normal”—it means bringing caution and a commitment to stopping the spread of COVID-19 into workplaces and community spaces.
Boston will continue to meet the needs of families, seniors, and small businesses, as well as continue to follow the science and public health guidance, while monitoring the data at the city and state levels.
The Public Health Emergency declared on March 15 in the City of Boston remains in place until further notice. The same applies to the guidelines for physical distancing and face coverings, as well as the citywide recommended curfew of 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. 
The City will continue to focus on equity and meeting the needs of vulnerable communities, families with children, seniors, and small businesses. 

Reopening Construction:
Under the statewide plan: Construction can start the week of May 18.
Boston’s approach: Boston has a phased-in approach with comprehensive health and safety requirements. 
Starting this week of May 18: Work on schools, hospitals, smaller residential projects, and open-air construction can restart.
Starting on May 26: Other work allowed by the state may resume.
Contractors must submit a COVID-19 Safety Plan before returning to work. 

Reopening Office Spaces:
Under the statewide plan: Office spaces will be allowed to open with 25% capacity starting on May 25. 
Boston’s approach: The City will take this step on June 1.
This timeline allows the City to work in collaboration with building owners and employers on safety plans that meet robust public health standards.
Every employer must create and implement plans for workplaces to minimize the spread of the virus, as outlined by the State.
The City is creating guidelines for offices to follow, based on national best practices and expert input.
These guidelines include shift scheduling, work-from-home policies, physical spacing, PPE, cleaning protocols, ventilation, employee communication, and more. These guidelines will be shared next week (week of May 25).

Reopening Small Businesses:
Under the statewide plan: Retail stores are allowed to open for curbside pickup on May 25, as well as some services, including hair care and car washes. 
Boston’s approach: The City is ready to help small businesses create plans that not only meet state guidelines, but go beyond them. However, we are also urging caution. 
The Boston Transportation Department has helped facilitate safe curbside pickup for essential businesses, and will expand that work as needed. The City is also developing creative public space solutions for pedestrians in business districts.
If businesses don’t feel comfortable opening, the City will back them in that decision and continue to make services and resources available to them. 
The City will provide more information in the days and weeks ahead to help employers and community organizations stay safe and connected. Small business owners can reach out to our Office of Small Business

Reopening Houses of Worship:
Under the statewide plan: Places of worship are allowed to open starting this week, at 40% capacity and with strict distancing practices and face coverings.
Boston’s approach: Places of worship must take a very cautious approach and are urged to not reopen if they have doubts about being able to plan, implement, and monitor strict safety guidelines. 
The Statewide “Safer at Home” policy remains in place, which advises against people 65 and older leaving home unless absolutely necessary. The Mayor urged seniors to adhere to the advisory and hold off on going back to places of worship, even if services restart. He also asked faith leaders to reach out to their elderly parishioners, to guide them and support them in putting safety first, and keep them connected in other ways.
The City has been getting questions about church choirs and hymns. The Mayor says they shouldn’t happen yet, given the added risk of virus transmission from singing in addition to speaking. Face coverings must be worn at all times.

We are reminding residents to take the 2020 Census during this time of physical distancing. To date, only 49.8% of households have responded, which is lower than the statewide average response rate of 64.4%. We need to increase the rate of response.
Much of the funding that comes from the Census count helps the most vulnerable among us. It provides, for instance, health care (Medicare and Medicaid), public education (grants for special education and Boston Public Schools), food and nutrition programs (SNAP and free school breakfast/lunch programs), affordable housing (Section 8 vouchers), and child care (Head Start) for low-income families.
The 2020 Census is a way to directly increase community power. It will impact our daily lives for the next 10 years. Many of Boston’s communities are at risk of an undercount. We need a complete and accurate count because all of Boston deserves to be seen, heard, and invested in.
The Census has never been more accessible. You can respond to the 2020 Census online (, over the phone, or by mail. You can respond to the 2020 Census online or over the phone in 13 different languages.

The Boston Parks and Recreation Department is undertaking a Parcel Priority Plan to identify and evaluate land that should be protected as open space. Creating new open space and protecting existing open space will depend on practical concerns and available resources. Please consider sharing your feedback with the Parks Dept about where you would like to see more open space in our neighborhood! Learn more here

If you have any questions about your rights as a tenant, join the The Department of Neighborhood Development and Greater Boston Legal Services on Tuesday, May 26, at 6 p.m. for a virtual town hall, where we will discuss tenants' rights during and after COVID-19. The town hall will be a WebEx event and can be accessed here.

The Mayor's Office of Food Access has modified the Fresh Truck weekly markets to provide fresh and affordable fruits and vegetables while keeping our staff, volunteers, and shoppers safe during the COVID-19 crisis. For more information visit, email, or call (617) 297-7685.

Important points on the markets:
Fresh Truck Open Air Markets are a safe and convenient way to purchase fresh produce at low prices.
Customers can choose from several options of pre-packed $10 bags that obtain a mix of fruits and vegetables.
Fresh Truck Open Air Market accepts cash, credit, EBT, and HIP.
Markets are conveniently located in various neighborhoods. 

Monday: 11am-1pm | Charlestown BHA & Newtown 38 O’Reilly Way  
Tuesday: 2-4pm | East Boston PJK School 343 Saratoga Street   
Wednesday: 11am-1pm | South Boston West Broadway BHA 7 Joyce Hayes Way         
Thursday: 10am-12pm | South Boston Mary Ellen McCormack BHA Sterling Square   
Friday: 11am-1pm | Dorchester Franklin Field BHA 9O Ames Street; 11am-1pm | Brighton Faneuil Gardens BHA 45 Faneuil Street

The Boston Resiliency Fund provides grant funding to nonprofits supporting communities, families, & individuals in the City of Boston who are most immediately and disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. For more information including translated materials, visit

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