Mayor Walsh said today that city transportation planners have started looking at expanding sidewalks out into the street, at least temporarily, to give restaurants and other businesses more room to conduct business as the weather gets nicer and they're still constrained by Covid-19 social-distancing requirements.
At a City Hall press conference, Walsh said the extra space would let restaurants add more patio seating to make up for the loss of seating inside their establishments.
Walsh said the effort would extend across all the city's business districts.
He acknowledged some people have asked him to just completely shut the restaurant-line Hanover Street in the North End, and he said the city will look at that, but the problem with the idea is public safety. Unlike in the Back Bay, which is a grid, which allows the city to shut down Newbury Street a couple times a year, the North End is the ultimate classic cow-path Boston area. He added the problem is compounded because the neighborhood's fire station is itself on Hanover Street.
Walsh said adding dedicated bus lanes could help the T run more frequent service as people go back to work to increase social distancing on certain traditionally congested routes, such as bus lines that connect South Boston with downtown.
Walsh added that his directive last week shutting down all public festivals and events only applies to city streets and spaces, and not to private facilities, such as Fenway Park.
He pointed to Major League Baseball's announcement it will try to start its season in July. "I'm not expecting fans to be in the stands in July right now," he said, adding, "I could be wrong, and I hope I'm wrong."
Walsh added that even as businesses begin to re-open, he is not expecting all office workers to immediately rush back to the office. He said that at City Hall, he's expecting that once it gets the OK to fully re-open, as many as 75% of workers would continue to work at home; and that managers have been asked to be especially careful with their employees who might be at higher risk for Covid-19 complications.
He said he saw more people wearing masks this past weekend, and urged people to keep it up. He said police have not written anybody a ticket for going maskless and said he will order them to do so only if things get out of hand.
Walsh said people need to stop maligning residents and staff at Boston nursing homes.
He said that as of May 9, 252 residents of the 39 nursing homes in Boston have died. That's 48% of all Covid-19 deaths in Boston, he said.