Tuesday, October 06, 2020

October Marks Select Phase 3 Step 2 Changes, Retail Bag Fees Return, Hybrid Learning, Census Deadline Extension & More


The City of Boston has 17,329 positive cases of coronavirus. So far, 14,399 of these 17,329 residents have fully recovered. Unfortunately, there have been 764 COVID-19 related deaths in Boston. Massachusetts has 130,461 positive cases of coronavirus and 9,265 deaths reported at this time. 


  • The Mayor confirmed that Boston will not be moving forward yet into Step 2 of Phase 3.

    • We will not open indoor performance venues. 

    • We’re not going to increase capacity at outdoor performance venues; it will stay at 25% with a maximum of 50 people. 

    • Certain activities will remain closed---like trampoline parks, obstacle courses, roller rinks, and laser tag. 

    • Fitting rooms in retail stores will remain closed.

    • Gyms, museums, libraries, and driving schools will remain at 40% capacity limits. 

  • At the same time, the state has made some changes to Phase 3, Step 1 that we are accepting in Boston.

    • Food courts may open, with appropriate distancing and capacity limits.

    • Movie theaters can go from a maximum of 25 people to a maximum of 50% capacity, with a 250 person limit.

    • Golf carts may hold more than 1 person, and flag sticks may now be used.  

    • Those changes go into effect on October 5. 

    • And to be clear: Our limits on gatherings remain in place: at 25 for indoor gatherings and 50 for outdoor gatherings. 

  • In Boston, the seating guidelines will remain at a six people maximum. 

  • View revised restaurant safety standards


The Boston Public Schools began hybrid, in-person learning for the highest-needs students on October 1.

  • Keeping students, teachers, and school staff safe is the number one priority. The City will continue to monitor the data closely, and make adjustments if needed.

  • Every single family has the option to continue fully remote learning. 

Schools have been prepared for safe in-person learning.

  • Every single school has been prepared for: proper spacing and capacity; proper ventilation; proper cleaning and safety protocols. 

  • School buses are ready to go with distancing and cleaning protocols. 

Remote learning is moving forward and with positive results. 

  • BPS is reporting remote attendance that is roughly equivalent to normal attendance rates (90%). 

  • Free laptops and internet hotspots continue to go out to families. 

  • Students can get 10 free meals per week at over 70 sites citywide and 26 special BPS super-sites that open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 

  • Visit boston.gov/FoodResourcesMap for the full list of sites; 

  • and bostonpublicschools.org/freemeals for the BPS sites. 


  • The City worked out a partnership with Staples, to give every BPS student a $50 in-store shopping card for their back to school supplies. 

  • All 54,000 cards were distributed last week to schools, who are currently arranging distribution with families. 

  • The cards can be used in any Staples store at any time until November 30. [Not for use online]


  • The City’s Small Business Relief Fund has distributed nearly $7 million in grants to over 1850 businesses.  

  • To date, the Reopen Boston Fund has issued more than $2.7 million in debt-free grants to 1,325 small businesses to implement public health measures and buy PPE

    • 57% of those businesses are owned by people of color; 55% by women; and 66% by immigrants. 

    • The Reopen Boston Fund continues to offer grants to small businesses of up to $2,000 to help with reopening costs. 

  • And now, for our restaurants, we are expanding the Reopen Boston Fund, to also cover cold weather preparations for outdoor dining

    • This opportunity will include grants to cover heaters, storage equipment, and propane. 

  • Learn more at Boston.gov/SmallBusiness.


  • A federal court is temporarily blocking the big fee increase on citizenship that was supposed to start on Friday.

    • Starting on October 2, USCIS was going to nearly double the cost of applying for naturalization from $725 to $1,200 and eliminating the fee waiver for almost all low-income residents. USCIS is also increasing the permanent residence (green card) application fee and implementing an asylum application fee, making the United States one of four countries to do so. 

  • Project Citizenship led a lawsuit against it, and the City led an amicus brief that many cities signed onto. 


  • A federal judge in California ruled that the 2020 Census must be extended through October 31, as was planned in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

  • Go to my2020census.gov or call 844-330-2020.


  • The Seniors Save program helps low-income seniors over the age of 60 replace old heating systems in their homes. Since the program launched in 2015, we’ve replaced more than 200 faulty heating systems throughout Boston’s neighborhoods.

  • We used to provide grants up to $3,500. Now, we’ve more than doubled that amount to $8,000.

  • Older residents living on fixed incomes can’t always afford important improvements to their homes. New, energy-efficient systems help prevent heating emergencies during cold weather. They also help reduce energy bills.

  • Seniors are encouraged to take advantage of this program before the cold weather hits. To find out if you qualify, and to apply, go to Boston.gov/HomeCenter or call (617) 635-HOME.


  • The City reached an agreement with teachers to provide COVID-19 testing and support. A partnership with the Red Sox and Major League Baseball are going to help implement this work, by providing COVID-19 testing for Boston teachers. 

  • The testing program will begin at a location near Fenway Park and later move into other neighborhoods. 

  • 5% of Boston Teachers Union members will be randomly tested each week for COVID-19 through the end of 2020. 

  • A random sample of teachers will be tested from across the city, weighted toward teachers working in neighborhoods with higher positivity rates. 


  • The Boston Red Sox and JetBlue, in collaboration with the Boston Pride, have donated more than 60,000 reusable masks to BPS students and teachers.

  • In addition to this year’s donation, in recent years the two organizations have donated more than 40,000 Red Sox hats annually to BPS children and staff in 104 schools throughout the city. Unfortunately, the annual “Red Sox Hat Day,” scheduled for this past March 30, was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Together, the Red Sox and JetBlue evolved this annual program to meet the need for reusable masks at each school this year.

  • This donation of masks will supplement the more than 200,000 resulable masks and two million disposable masks the district has purchased for students and teachers, who must wear the face coverings while in school buildings or riding on school buses. More information on the 2020-21 BPS school year is available at bostonpublicschools.org/reopening.


  • Starting October 1, retail establishments must comply with all ordinance requirements:

    • Supply compliant reusable, recyclable or compostable checkout bags

    • Charge a fee (5 cents minimum per bag)

    • Display a sign within five feet of the checkout location, telling customers that they will have to pay for a bag if they want one

    • Reusable bags are allowed in Boston. Consumers are now able to use reusable bags if they would like to.


  • The City of Boston has released a Request for Proposals (RFP) inviting proposals from consultants, firms, agencies, or other organizations to partner on shaping and executing a branding and marketing campaign to tourists. 

  • The RFP is designed to build Boston's brand as a travel destination, increase awareness and active promotion, and drive visits to Boston from diverse local and regional visitors. 

  • A successful application would examine the ways in which Boston communicates about the offerings of the city, and highlight attractions and events that speak to the experiences of people of color in Boston. As such, part of the evaluation the City of Boston will be using in the selection process will be ensuring the respondent has a plan that demonstrates focus on equity and inclusion. Given the wide range of needed expertise anticipated, the City of Boston welcomes proposals to create partnerships and join with complementary organizations and vendors to provide a comprehensive proposal. Additionally, applicants reflecting the City of Boston's rich diversity are encouraged to apply. The City of Boston is committed to selecting a campaign focused on welcoming all kinds of visitors. 

  • Completed proposals will be accepted up to October 5, 2020 at 4:00 p.m., and must be submitted electronically via the  Supplier Portal.



  • Individuals can register to vote in person, by mail, online or through the Registry of Motor Vehicles by Saturday, October 24, 2020 to vote in the November 3 State Election. To be eligible to vote, an individual must be at least 18 years of age and a U.S. citizen.

  • Learn more about the reopening process: www.mass.gov/reopening.

  • When going outside, wear a face covering, practice physical distancing from others (6 feet apart), and avoid mass  gatherings.

  • Anyone experiencing a medical emergency should call 911. 

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol; avoid shaking hands

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes; clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces; and avoid close contact with people who are sick.

  • If you think you might be sick, please call your doctor or 311 to be connected to the Mayor's Health Line 617-534-5050. Buoy Health has created a free online diagnostic tool which screens for COVID19 at buoy.com/mass.

  • Donate supplies to first responders here.

  • Donate to the City of Boston Resiliency Fund here.

  • Volunteer with the City of Boston here. .

  • City Hall is open to the public on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, 9 am – 5 pm. Learn more about the status of city departments and hours of operation here

  • Those employed at grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants, and local retail shops can sign up for a free 90-day Bluebikes pass boston.gov/bike-share.

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