The mayor also confirmed that the city’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade would be canceled for the second straight year due to the pandemic.
“I also want to be clear that there should be no large gatherings of any kind for St. Patrick’s Day,” Walsh said. “We are so close to a finish line here that what we don’t need now is a step backwards. … Events like St. Patrick’s Day and weekends like St. Patrick’s Day can throw us back. They can become super spreader events, and we could be in a situation where we’re shutting everything down again.”
Walsh said the city’s once again waiving application fees for restaurants seeking approval to have outdoor dining next spring.
“We have a centralized online application so both businesses and residents can follow the process,” Walsh said. “And we have technical support available for all restaurants. We’re doing targeted outreach for underrepresented businesses and communities and will once again be restricting parking and closing certain streets to open up spaces for outdoor dining.”
More information on specific streets will be available in the coming weeks, Walsh said.
City Health and Human Services Chief Marty Martinez also briefed reporters and provided stats on the state of the vaccination effort in Boston.
As of Feb. 23, Martinez said, over 96,000 city residents had received their first shot, which represents about 16.5 percent of the eligible population over the age of 16.
“So to see 96,000 folks having gotten their first shot is great,” Martinez said. “That’s over a week ago, so likely many more included in there. And of those folks, about 42 percent of shots have gone into the arms of people of color here in the city of Boston, which continues to be an important piece of our work, to make sure that we create equitable access to the vaccine in communities of color.”
Martinez said city officials have a goal of releasing vaccination data among residents on a weekly basis.
“That data will include neighborhood-based data, and age-based data as well, which will help us understand where we’re making progress and where we need to do more.”
On the business front, Walsh also briefly discussed the capacity restrictions being eased Monday on some sectors, while stressing that Boston’s moving a little slower than the rest of the state.
“Today, March 1, we are moving forward with up to 50 percent maximum capacity at many of our indoor businesses,” Walsh said, “including gyms, museums, offices, movie theaters, hotels and stores. We are moving forward to allow the use of fitting rooms in retail stores. And we are lifting the capacity limit at restaurants while requiring six feet of space between tables, six [patrons] maximum per table, and a 90 minute limit on seating.”
But in other areas, Walsh said, the city’s moving more cautiously.
“We have not increased the six people at table at this point,” Walsh said. “I know restaurants want that but just be patient with us. We will get there. We want to make sure that the numbers are safe before we do that. What we’re not moving forward with is live music in restaurants until at least March 22. We are not opening indoor performance venues like concert halls and theaters until at least March 22, and we are not opening higher contact indoor recreation, like rollerskating [and] laser tag, until at least March 22.”
Statewide on Monday, Indoor performance venues like concert halls, theaters, and other indoor performance spaces are allowed to reopen at 50 percent capacity, with a limit of 500 people, according to the Baker administration.
And elsewhere around the state, restaurants are now allowed to host musical performances, but the six feet of social distancing, six-people-per-table limits, and 90-minute time limits remain in place statewide, as in Boston.