Monday, June 01, 2020

June Marks Offices Reopening, Public Spaces Expanding & Property Taxes Due

Today, Monday, June 1, office workplaces can begin to reopen in Boston, under Phase 1 of the state’s reopening framework. Boston City Hall will be open today to assist with the property owners with the tax deadline. The City's Healthy Streets initiative is expanding public open space, sidewalks and bus and bike lanes. The MBTA is pushing forward on T and commuter rail improvements and the State's reopening plan.

June 1, 2020 is the date the City of Boston asked for, because of the size of the City’s commercial sector and the unique role Boston plays in the region’s working and commuting patterns. 

The City published guidelines for offices on how to keep workers, clients, and customers as safe as possible during a gradual and limited reopening. These guidelines use the state Safety Standards for this sector as a starting point, and are supplemented with recommendations from the CDC, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and industry associations, as well as input from local building owners, property managers, and workers.

These guidelines are not mandated, but serve as a detailed and use-able best practices framework. The framework, which covers social distancing, hygiene, staffing and operations, and cleaning and disinfection, can be found at

The Mayor urges office workplaces to be cautious about reopening, and protect their workforce by keeping the guiding principles that apply to the entire reopening process in mind.

  • First, going back to work brings risk. Even with a limited reopening, workplaces must be ready to manage the ongoing risk, and all plans must include mechanisms for scaling back if COVID-19 cases and deaths begin to spike. 
  • Second, everyone who can work should continue to work from home. Nothing close to an old normal will be possible until a vaccine or effective treatment is developed. And for any worker who is high-risk, steps should be taken to make sure they can work from home.
  • Third, equity is essential for effective risk management. If workplaces don’t plan at every step for the needs of those who are disproportionately impacted, they will have disproportionate impacts that affect the entire workplace. Workplaces must take a complete view of who the workers are that make their offices run: from the front desk staff and custodians up to the CEO. 

The Mayor strongly urges all employers, landlords, and property managers to make use of these best practices and guidelines. The City will be taking feedback and adapting it to conditions moving forward, and can help answer any questions about how to implement them. 
The City will also be consulting with the new Boston Reopening Advisory Board on safety and recovery needs in offices and other sectors of the economy. This is a diverse group of leaders from business, health care, education, labor, arts, and faith communities.

NOTE: Workers in any size organization have options if they feel they are being pressured into an unsafe situation. They include an online form at the Attorney General’s website and a dedicated Fair Labor hotline at 617-727-3465. People can also find those resources by calling 311. 

In addition Phase 1 applications for the first round of the Boston Reopen Fund are live. More information can be found at The $6 million Fund is a new resource to help small businesses minimize risk and manage economic recovery during reopening. 

The Mayor announced “Healthy Streets”, a package of changes to improve social-physical spacing in Boston’s neighborhoods, help workers and small businesses recover, and continue the work the City was doing before the crisis to make public space in Boston more safe, accessible, and healthy. These measures are “quick-build” projects that can be adapted and adjusted based on their success and community feedback. Details
Expanding bus stops and bus lanes: Working with the MBTA, the City is increasing space at bus stops on busy routes used by workers—including in East Boston, Mattapan, Roxbury, South Boston, and downtown. We’re also putting in a new bus lane on Washington St. and upgrading the bus lane on Essex Street, for the Silver Line through Chinatown.
Building dedicated bike lanes: The first phase will connect downtown job centers to our existing citywide bike lane network. We’re starting with at least 8 sections of road, connecting downtown, Back Bay, and the South End. These are dedicated lanes that are comfortable for new bike riders, families, essential workers, and commuters. We also continue to study opportunities for opening up lanes to pedestrians on some neighborhood streets, and more details are forthcoming.
Outdoor seating for restaurants: As of this morning, 264 establishments in Boston have expressed interest in seating on the sidewalk or parking lane, and we are reviewing the requests. As the State continues to develop a timeline and framework for restaurant reopening, the City is ready to help, where it can, to make those expansions safe when the time comes.

Areas that are now OPEN:
  • Passive space for walking, running, cycling, riding non-motorized scooters and skateboards, while practicing physical distancing. Keep six feet of space between yourself and others.
  • Tennis courts, pickleball courts, and athletic fields are open for families and individuals from the same household. Do not congregate in groups.
  • No permits will be issued until further notice.
The following features are STILL CLOSED in all parks:

  • Playground structures and equipment (slides, swings, climbing structures)
  • Fitness equipment
  • Courts: basketball, street hockey, and handball
  • Organized, group sports activities on fields: baseball, softball, football, rugby, cricket, and soccer

Only use parks when you have the ability to remain six feet away from others. If you find a park to be crowded, choose a less busy time or find another park.
The State is in the middle of a plan to replace 400 red and orange, modernizing stations and upgrading tracks.
The coronavirus made it possible for the MBTA to quickly bump up work on the Blue Line and should wrap up on Sunday, May 31.
The T is also speeding up work on the Lowell commuter rail line between Anderson and North Station for the Green Line expansion project.
The T has been cleaning more regularly and often, and is doing rear-door boarding on buses and street-level trolley stops, making it safer for MBTA workers and riders.
Transportation Secretary Pollock says that some may think the T can't do as much this year, but in fact the T will continue their work, spending $1.4B and doubling the amount invested in maintenance.

Precautions for keeping the T safe moving forward with the State’s reopening plan:
  • Social distancing: The State expects that more employees will work from home now, which may decrease congestion on the T and on the roads.
  • The State is looking at asking employers to consider things like staggered start times.
  • T has a Ride Safer Campaign, to promote social distancing, face coverings, and ramping up cleaning and disinfecting. The T is also providing PPE to employees. Staff will be monitoring ridership levels during Phase 1.
  • During Phase 2, service levels across all modes (bus, T, ferry) will increase. Face coverings are required while riding the T, including on shuttle buses.

Boston City Hall will be open this coming Monday, June 1st to accommodate the extended June 1st property tax deadline the City put in place to provide flexibility for homeowners. Staff will be available on a walk-in basis to answer questions and process payments. However, residents are encouraged to make their payments at or by calling 311. This is a one-time change, and City Hall will remain open to the public, by appointment, on Tuesdays and Fridays only. BOSTON FIRE DEPARTMENT UPDATE ON PERMITS Due to the harsh economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses, the Boston Fire Department is extending the expiration date on all existing Place of Assembly and Annual Permits from June 30, 2020 to September 30, 2020. Any issued Place of Assembly Permit or Annual Permit stating an expiration date of June 30, 2020 will now automatically be valid in the City of Boston until September 30, 2020. The invoices for renewal will be mailed out in mid-August, and the permitting cycle for both Place of Assembly and Annual Permits will become October 1 to September 30 of the following year from this point forward.

  • The City of Boston has 12,634 positive cases of coronavirus (confirmed and presumptive). To date 6,272 of these 12,634 residents have fully recovered. Unfortunately, there have been 627 COVID-19 related deaths in Boston. 
  • There are  420 cases of Covid19 in South Boston. 1,927 people have been tested in South Boston.
  • Massachusetts has 94,895 positive cases of coronavirus (confirmed and presumptive) and 6,640 deaths reported at this time. Massachusetts has also tested 562,323 individuals to date.