City of Boston’s response to COVID-19: the latest updates

Stay informed about how Mayor Martin Walsh is protecting Boston residents with this timeline of orders and initiatives issued by the mayor's office. We will update this page as news breaks and provide resources when available.

Read about how we’re covering COVID-19 and our sustained commitment to telling stories of hope, justice and resilience.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

A $6 million fund has been set up to support the safe reopening of small businesses in Boston.

The Reopen Boston Fund, will award grants of up to $2,000 to small businesses with less than 15 employees. Qualified companies will engage in services that require staff to work in close proximity to each other, or who need to be near their customers, such as salons, barber shops, retail and food services.

There will be three rounds of funding and applications open May 28 at  boston.gov/reopen-fund.


Thursday, May 21, 2020

12:18 p.m.
Boston’s Licensing Board has announced they will “streamline existing processes and remove outdated restrictions to help small businesses and restaurants as part of the COVID-19 reopening process,” according to a press release from the mayor’s office.

Among the changes is an emergency amendment that will make it easier for restaurants to apply for a get outdoor seating plans approved. They will waive associated costs in applying for outdoor space, on both public and private property, on a temporary basis. The board also voted to lift preexisting conditions the sale of “alcohol with food only,” making is easier for bars and restaurants to sell alcohol, unaccompanied by the purchase of food, in outdoor spaces.

“We’ve said from the beginning that Boston’s reopening process must take a cautious approach that puts science and public health at the forefront of our discussions,” said Mayor Walsh. “It’s my hope that these updated protocols will help ensure proper social distancing, and give much-needed assistance to the small businesses that are the lifeblood of Boston’s neighborhoods.”

8:02 a.m.

To date, nearly $4 million has been distributed to more than 1,100 small businesses in every neighborhood across the City of Boston through the Small Business Relief Fund. This latest total includes the $2 million distributed to businesses earlier this month.

Businesses receiving grants from the fund represent the top five industries most-affected by the government shutdown and other COVID-19 measures, including hospitality, arts, recreation, retail, healthcare and social assistance. The majority of these companies have 15 or fewer employees, 52% are owned by people of color, 49% are women-owned, and 46% are immigrant-owned.


Wednesday, May 13, 2020

5:57 p.m.

The seventh round of grants from the Boston Resiliency Fund, totaling $1.3 million, will go to 19 organizations working to help residents in the City of Boston impacted most by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Boston Resiliency Fund running total: $17.6 million to 191 organizations, 61% woman-run, and 41% led by a person of color.

3:51 p.m.

The Boston Tax Help Coalition, a program within Mayor Martin Walsh’s Office of Financial Empowerment, has launched a Stimulus Hotline to help Boston residents who are eligible to receive federal stimulus checks.

Residents with incomes under $75,000, including those with no income, may be eligible for the full $1,200 payment. However, residents who do not usually file a tax return must file an application with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in order to receive their payment.

Before calling the hotline — (781) 399-5330 or 311 — check if you are eligible for a stimulus check at https://www.bostontaxhelp.org/stimulus-payment-help/. The hotline is staffed on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., and calls received outside of those times will be returned.

Boston Tax Help Coalition volunteers and staff have been trained to assist residents in filing this application with the IRS in English and Spanish. Other language requirements will be available via the appropriate translation services.


Saturday, May 9, 2020

8 a.m.

The Boston Resiliency Fund reached a milestone this week. To date, the fund, set-up by the City to support those immediately impacted by COVID-19, has raised $30.7 million from 5,755 donors since launching in March. More than half of the donations received so far have been for amounts less than $100, coming from individuals and Boston residents.

Boston Resiliency Fund running total: $16.2 million distributed to 178 organizations


Friday, May 8, 2020

ANNOUNCED: All public events cancelled through Labor Day

2:28 p.m.

There will be no Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular on July 4, no Boston Calling and no Pride parade in Boston this summer.

All parades, festivals and public gatherings that could attract more than 10 people have been cancelled in Boston up to and including Labor Day on September 7, 2020.

“While we’re planning a healthy reopening and an equitable recovery process, I know this announcement will be disappointing to many residents and organizations that look forward to these events each year,” said Mayor Walsh. “This is a hard public health decision, but it’s the right one. I encourage people to rethink their events, and thank them for their work to inspire us, and help our communities get through this difficult time.”


Wednesday, May 6, 2020

3:23 p.m

The Boston Resiliency Fund Steering Committee will distribute $1 million in grants to 14 more Boston-based organizations.

Those receiving money in this round of funding include community health centers testing residents for COVID-19, restaurants providing free meals, and neighborhood organization like First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain and the Black Ministerial Alliance of Greater Boston.

Since its launch in March, the Boston Resiliency Fund has raised $29.4 million from more than 5,400 individual donors, and distributed more than $16 million in grants to 179 organizations across the city.

2:54 p.m.

The City of Boston has set a new target for testing and plans to complete 1,500 COVID-19 diagnostic tests per day.

Currently 1,100 tests are conducted on average each day, across all available testing sites. Last week, the daily number of residents being tested for coronavirus stood at 680. As well as increasing testing capacity at community health enters, the City plans to expand mobile testing facilities, improve testing among the homeless population, and fund a large-scale antibody testing initiative.

Almost 28,000 Boston residents have been tested for COVID-19 so far, about 4% of the city’s population. The number of positive test results have declined from 34% to 32% of those tested, over the past seven days.


Tuesday, May 5, 2020

1:38 p.m.

Boston’s Small Business Relief Fund will distribute an additional $2 million in grants to 561 small businesses most directly impacted by closures, policies, or general loss of revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most of the businesses receiving funding in this round are in the hospitality, personal care, arts, retail, healthcare and social assistance sectors, and more than 75% of them employ fewer than five people.

“I am so thankful for the City because I will be able to use these funds to pay for rent, utilities, and finally be able to pay myself,” said Venard Veillard, owner of Beauty by Venard in Jamaica Plain. “As a salon, we have been hit really badly and Mayor Walsh’s Small Business Relief Fund has been a saving grace.”

Through a combination of city, federal, and private funds, $7.5 million has been made available to help Boston’s small businesses struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.

“This grant is my only source of income right now and it will impact me greatly. I have to keep my daycare functioning, even without any kids,” said Marie Chalmers, a home daycare provider and Roslindale resident.


Saturday, May 2, 2020

9:02 a.m.

Mayor Martin Walsh gets crafty, and releases a video on how to make your own face covering at home.


Wednesday, April 29, 2020

3:55 p.m.

Mayor Martin Walsh and the Boston Resiliency Fund Steering Committee will hand out an additional $1.4 million to 18 organizations currently providing critical services and support to residents, vulnerable communities, and Boston families most impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency.

This latest round of funding will help community health centers fund increased testing capacity, and organizations working to ensure food access for residents, particularly in the neighborhoods of Dorchester, Roxbury, and Mattapan.

Boston Resiliency Fund running total: $15.2 million, to 165 organizations


Sunday, April 26, 2020

11:04 a.m.

About 1,000 residents will be randomly selected and invited to participate in antibody testing, as part of a study to evaluate community exposure to COVID-19.

Residents living in East Boston, Roslindale and within the boundaries of zip codes 02121 and 02125 in Dorchester, will be contacted, starting today.
Antibody testing is done by drawing blood through a finger prick. These tests will detect antibodies present in the blood, a sign that the body is fighting or has fought-off an infection like COVID-19. Any resident who tests positive for the novel coronavirus, or the COVID-19 antibodies, will be provided with clear guidance on how to care for themselves and those around them.

Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 25% of people infected with COVID-19 are asymptomatic and may not know they are a carrier of the virus, or that they could be infecting others.


Friday, April 24, 2020

ANNOUNCED: Universal testing for all people currently in Boston’s homeless shelters

5:12 p.m.

After securing an additional 1,000 tests, public health officials will now test all clients in Boston’s shelter system over the next two weeks. The efforts will be led by Boston’s partners at Boston Health Care for the Homeless, in coordination with the Boston Public Health Commission, St. Francis House, and the Pine Street Inn. The tests are being donated by Boston company, Orig3n.

As of Thursday, April 23, 453 people experiencing homelessness have tested positive for COVID-19.

4:54 p.m.

Restaurants can now sell and deliver grocery items.

The Mayor’s Office of Economic Development and the Inspectional Services Department has relaxed retail food permits for the sale of uncooked food. Officials at City Hall have created new temporary policies, allowing restaurants to sell groceries for delivery and curbside pick-up. It is hoped this measure will improve access to food and essential items, and help ensure social distancing guidelines continue to be upheld.

Restauranteurs who want to sell groceries must follow these new policies and submit an operational plan to the Boston Licensing Board. This plan must detail how restaurant owners will provide customers with safe handling instructions, ingredient and allergen information, and details about the food manufacturer, packer, or distributor. This information is required by the Food Allergen Labeling & Consumer Protection Act and the FDA’s temporary policy regarding labeling and packaging during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

The Licensing Board will review each plan and restaurants are not permitted to sell grocery items before receiving approval from the Boston Licensing Board.


Wednesday, April 22, 2020

2:34 p.m.

An additional $1.7 million will be distributed by the Boston Resiliency Fund Steering Committee to a further 20 organizations providing critical services and support to residents during the coronavirus pandemic.

This round of funding will target organizations helping individuals experiencing homelessness, persons with disabilities, as well as community groups in neighborhoods experiencing higher rates of COVID-19. These include the Boston Public Market Association, More Than Words, East Boston Soup Kitchen and Home for Little Wanderers. The money will also be spent on personal protective equipment (PPE) for Boston’s frontline and essential workers.

To date, including this most recent funding award, the Boston Resiliency Fund has distributed $13.8 million in 76 emergency grants to 135 organizations.


Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Adults, as well as children and youth, will be able to get free meals at the following six sites in East Boston, Dorchester, South Boston, Roxbury, Mattapan, and Brighton:

  • YMCA Egleston Square, 3134 Washington Street Roxbury, MA 02119, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.
  • YMCA Oak Square, 615 Washington Street, Brighton, MA 02135, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.
  • YMCA East Boston, 215 Bremen Street, East Boston, MA 02128, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.
  • BCYF Leahy Holloran, 1 Worrell Street, Dorchester, MA 02122, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
  • BCYF Mattahunt, 100 Hebron Street, Mattapan, MA 02126, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
  • Mary Ellen McCormack, Sterling Square, South Boston, MA 02127, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Since the start of Boston’s public health emergency, the City has distributed over 461,000 free meals across 65 meal sites. Residents can visit boston.gov/COVID19food to find more food resources.


Monday, April 20, 2020

3:07 p.m.

Mayor Martin Walsh and the Boston Public Health Commission have launched a new mapping tool to help Boston residents find COVID-19 test sites, provide information on center hours and contact information. It will be updated as new sites open.

Of the 15 locations in Boston offering tests, many are community health centers in neighborhoods experiencing higher rates of COVID-19, including Hyde Park (which currently has 413 reported cases) Mattapan (298) Dorchester (1,274) East Boston (410) Roxbury (335) Roslindale (302) and the South End (372). Testing sites are:

  • Codman Square Health Center, 637 Washington Street, Dorchester, MA 02124, (617) 822-8271
  • The Dimock Center, 55 Dimock Street, Roxbury, MA 02119, (617) 442-8800
  • DotHouse Health, 1353 Dorchester Avenue, Dorchester, MA 02122, (617) 740-2292
  • Harvard Street Neighborhood Health Center, 632 Blue Hill Avenue, Dorchester, MA 02121, (617) 825-3400
  • Mattapan Community Health Center, 1575 Blue Hill Avenue, Mattapan, MA 02126, (617) 296-0061
  • Whittier Street Health Center, 1290 Tremont Street, Roxbury, MA 02120, (617) 427-1000
  • East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, 10 Gove Street , East Boston, MA 02128, (617) 569-5800
  • Upham’s Corner Health Center, 415 Columbia Road, Dorchester, MA 02125, (617) 388-5007
  • Bowdoin Street Health Center, 230 Bowdoin Street, Dorchester,, MA 02122, (617) 754-0100
  • Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Community Physicians at Hyde Park, 1337 Hyde Park Avenue, Hyde Park, MA 02136, (617) 364-9880
  • Brigham and Women’s Hospital, (Boston main campus), 75 Francis Street, Boston, MA 02115, (617) 732-5500
  • Carney Hospital, 2100 Dorchester Avenue, Dorchester, MA 02124, (617) 296-4000
  • Massachusetts General Hospital , 55 Fruit Street, Boston, MA 02114, (617) 726-2000
  • St. Elizabeth Medical Center, 736 Cambridge Street, Brighton, MA 02135, (617) 789-3000
  • Tufts Medical Center, 800 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02111, (617) 636-7216

Residents should call ahead for pre-screening and to schedule an appointment.

12:55 p.m.

The City of Boston’s text alert service is now available in Somali, Chinese, Arabic, Vietnamese, and Russian, in addition to English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, French, Cabo Verdean Creole, and Portuguese. Daily texts provide residents with information about Boston’s case numbers, local spread of the coronavirus, and tips on how prevent infection.

To receive these texts, send “BOSCOVID” to the City’s new number 888-777. To get information in a language other than English, text the following keywords:

  • Text BOSEspanol to 888-777 for Spanish
  • Text BOSKreyol to 888-777 for Haitian Creole
  • Text BOSFrancais to 888-777 for French
  • Text BOSKriolu to 888-777 for Cabo Verdean Creole
  • Text BOSPortugues to 888-777 for Portuguese
  • Text BOSSoomali to 888-777 for Somali
  • Text BOSChi to 888-777 for Simplified Chinese
  • Text BOSbilAraby to 888-777 for for Arabic
  • Text BOSViet to 888-777 for for Vietnamese
  • Text BOSRus to 888-777 for for Russian

Saturday, April 18, 2020

3:50 p.m.

Starting Sunday, the City will deploy seven Boston Public Works trucks with sound equipment to broadcast a message about COVID-19: stay home as much as you can, wash your hands often, cover your face when out, and keep your distance from others. The message will be broadcasted in seven languages, including English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, Vietnamese, Arabic, Somali, and Cabo Verdean Creole.

The trucks will drive around the neighborhoods with the highest rates of COVID-19 in Boston, including Hyde Park, Mattapan, Dorchester, East Boston, Roxbury and Roslindale.

According to the latest data from the Boston Public Health Commission, Hyde Park had 413 reported cases of COVID-19, Mattapan had 298, Dorchester had 1,274, East Boston had 410, Roxbury had 335, and Roslindale had 302.

8:03 a.m.

The mayor’s office has launched Good Neighbors, a free platform that connects older, at-risk residents with volunteers in their community, to check-in on them and help with grocery shopping during the pandemic.

“We are seeing the best of Boston with residents looking for ways to volunteer and support those in need,” said Mayor Martin Walsh. “This new volunteer platform will help organize and activate volunteers looking to help seniors who need things like groceries, medication, or just a good old fashioned phone call check-in.”

Nesterly, a homesharing website, built Good Neighbors with support from the City of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development, the Age Strong Commission, and the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics.

How does it work? An older Bostonian (or someone on their behalf) submits a request, either by phone, online or email, for a delivery of groceries or a prepared meal, or a wellness check-in call or written correspondence. Then Good Neighbors reaches out to their volunteer community to find the right person for the job. The volunteer then contacts the recipient directly via email or phone to facilitate the delivery or check-in.

All volunteers go through a background check and receive guidance regarding personal protective equipment (PPE) and safety protocols when completing deliveries.


Wednesday, April 15, 2020

3:01 p.m.

An additional $1.7 million will be distributed by Mayor Martin Walsh’s Resiliency Fund. The extra funding will go to 18 organizations providing critical services to Boston residents and those immediately impacted by the pandemic. More specifically, the money will go towards expanding access to testing at community based health centers, and funding family shelters, recovery services and community-based organizations.

Organizations who have been awarded this funding include Bowdoin Street Community Health Center, Codman Square Community Health Center and Mattapan Community Health Center, as well as St. Francis House, the Brazilian Worker Center Inc. and Mujeres Unidas Avanzando

To date, the Boston Resiliency Fund has distributed $12 million in 55 emergency grants to 115 organizations.


Thursday, April 9, 2020

ANNOUNCED: April 20, Massachusetts’ peak in hospital resource use

4:25 p.m.
A new COVID-19 Health Inequities Task Force has been unveiled, to investigate and provide the City guidance on current inequities in data analysis, testing sites and health care services for Boston’s Black, Latinx, Asian and immigrant communities.

“We know that there are significant inequities that put our communities of color and immigrant population at higher risk for contracting coronavirus, developing severe illness, and impeding them from accessing care,” Mayor Walsh said. “By forming the COVID-19 Health Inequities Task Force, we can focus specifically on increasing access to this important data and tackling the inequities that we know exist in our communities.”

Following a review of current data collection processes and health care best practices, the task force’s finding will will support a strategy for equity and accessibility to COVID-19 treatment for populations historically underserved or underrepresented.

What do we know about the racial and ethnic split of Boston’s confirmed COVID-19 cases?

Complete data on the race and ethnicity of Boston residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 has not been reported to the City of Boston. The Boston Public Health Commission is working to collect available data for imminent public release. As of April 8, this is the most detailed breakdown of confirmed cases available:

Total Race/Ethnicity Known Cases in Boston residents. This case number reflects data available from April 8, 2020. Source: Boston Public Health Commission.
Total Race/Ethnicity Known Cases in Boston residents. This case number reflects data available from April 8, 2020. Source: Boston Public Health Commission.

According to the latest figures from the public health commission, 61% of COVID-19 positive patients are from Dorchester, Roxbury, Hyde Park and Mattapan. At Massachusetts General Hospital, 40% of COVID-19 positive patients speak Spanish as their native language.

Many of the COVID-19 positive patients at the Boston Medical Center have presented with higher rates of underlying conditions compared to historical data, including 34% with diabetes, 49% with hypertension and 52% with a Body Mass Index above 30.

Race and ethnicity data for COVID-19 deaths is not complete for residents of Boston at this time.

Who is on the task force?

Named members of the task force so far include:

  • Dr. Thea James, Boston Medical Center
  • Vanessa Calderón-Rosado, IBA
  • Manny Lopes, East Boston Health Center
  • Guale Valdez, Mattapan Community Health Center
  • Carol Rose, ACLU
  • Alexandra Oliver-Dávila, Sociedad Latina
  • Frederica Williams, Whittier Street Health Center
  • Michael Curry, Mass League of Community Health Centers
  • Dr. Joseph Betancourt, MGH
  • Karen Chen, CPA
  • Tanisha Sullivan, NAACP
  • Michele Courton Brown, Quality Interactions
  • Rev. Ray Hammond, Bethel AME Church
  • Rev. Gloria White Hammond, Bethel AME Church
  • Paul Watanabe, UMass Boston
  • Dr. Lorna Rivera, UMass Boston
  • Suzanne Lee, former principal, Josiah Quincy School
  • Eva Millona, MIRA Coalition
  • Marie St. Fleur, St. Fleur Communications, former State Representative
  • Rev. Sam Acevedo, COPHANI
  • Petrina Cherry,  Boston Medical Center
  • Linda Dorcena Forry, Suffolk Construction
  • Dr. Jean Alves, Bowdoin Street Health Center
  • Dr. Myechia Minter-Jordan, DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement

3:33 p.m.

Twelve of Boston’s largest housing lenders have agreed to a number of mortgage relief measures, set to last for as long as the state of public health emergency.

These lenders will offer at least three months of deferred mortgage payments for homeowners who can demonstrate they have been financially impacted by the public health crisis. This deferment period may be extended in some circumstances. Homeowners will not be required to pay back the deferred mortgage payments in a lump sum, but will instead work with lenders on an affordable repayment plan. They have also promised not to charge late fees, or report non-payments as bad loans to the credit bureaus.
The 12 lenders offering this relief are:

  • Bank of America
  • Boston Private
  • Cambridge Trust Company
  • Century Bank, Citizens Bank
  • City of Boston Credit Union
  • Dedham Savings Bank
  • Eastern Bank
  • Mortgage Network, Inc.
  • Prime Lending
  • Salem Five Bank
  • Santander Bank

If you have any questions about your mortgage or lender, call the Boston Home Center at 617-635-4663, ext. 3.

3:04 p.m.

An additional 334 beds have been secured by the City to house first responders, shelter staff and veterans living in group homes who have tested positive for COVID-19, have come into contact with someone suspected of infection, or to improve social-distancing.

Seventy-four single-occupancy rooms have been made available at Hotel Boston in Brighton for members of Boston Police, Boston Fire and Boston EMS who have tested positive for COVID-19 or may have been exposed to a coworker with COVID-19, and are unable to effectively isolate themselves at home. All rooms have a private bathroom and kitchenette, ground-level access and no common areas.

Northeastern University is also offering 135 single-occupancy rooms, with private bathrooms and kitchenettes, at their West Village dormitory for Boston’s first responders living with an at-risk person, someone older or who has serious underlying medical conditions.

Boston University will provide 75 rooms to Pine Street Inn’s shelter staff, workers on the frontline of the public health emergency, caring for people experiencing homelessness at their shelter facilities in the South End and Jamaica Plain.

“Many of our staff members are working extremely long hours and unable to make it home between shifts, so it means so much to have a place where they can rest and regroup,” said Lyndia Downie, Pine Street president and executive director.

To reduce population density and increase social distancing in Boston’s veterans housing, the New England Center and Home for Veterans will temporarily relocate up to 50 confirmed COVID-negative veterans to a former nursing home in Brighton. Abandoned for a year, new property owners worked to restore the former home, re-instating power and water supplies to the building, at no cost to the New England Center and Home for Veterans.


Tuesday, April 7, 2020

2:39 p.m.

The mayor’s office and the Boston Transportation Department announced

a parking ticket amnesty for healthcare workers and people providing critical care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tickets issued to staff near hospitals and health care facilities will be waived on appeal while the state of emergency is in place. Appeals can be made by emailing [email protected] — a copy of the ticket and hospital ID is required. This policy is retroactive and healthcare workers have six months to challenge any fines.

Tickets issued for public safety violations, like blocking a fire hydrant, sidewalk or handicap ramp, must still be honored.


Monday, April 6, 2020

4:13 p.m.

The due date for property tax bills in Boston has been extended until June 1, to “give residents more flexibility during the ongoing public health crisis caused by COVID-19,” according to a release from the mayor’s office.

2:43 p.m.

The Boston Resiliency Fund Steering Committee announced an additional $3 million will be awarded to 29 organizations providing essential services to those impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Since the end of March, the committee has distributed $5.4 million to organizations supporting frontline workers, seniors and Boston students transitioning to remote learning.

Of the groups set to receive second in this second round of funding, 41% are led by a person of color and 79% are women-led. These organizations are:

Organizations who wish to be considered for future grants must fill out a statement of interest.


Sunday, April 5, 2020

3:42 p.m.

Stricter social distancing measures were announced this afternoon. The new recommendations are:

Everyone should wear a face covering over their mouth and nose when in public. Masks can include a cloth, scarf or bandana, something that covers your mouth and nose, and homemade masks should be made of intact, close-weave cloth and allow comfortable breathing – see CDC guidelines on face coverings. Wash face coverings regularly, either in a washing machine with detergent and hot water, or hand wash them with soap and warm water. The mayor’s office recommend using a face covering rates than a medical grade facemask, as these need to be prioritized for health workers and those serving on the front lines.

Everyone in Boston, except essential workers, should stay at home from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily. Walsh’s office recommends using delivery services after 9 p.m. at night.

City parks and recreational sports areas are closed. Basketball and tennis courts, golf courses and outdoor gyms will be closed, along with childrens’ playgrounds from Monday, April 6. Walsh’s office warn that if needed, Boston Police can disperse gatherings and order people to vacate closed sections of parks.

Those most at risk should also not take walks or spend time outside, unless for essential activities, over the next few weeks. The mayor recommends exercising inside as an alternative.


Friday, April 3, 2020

9:33 a.m.

A $3 million Rental Relief Fund has been established by the mayor’s office to support Boston renters facing eviction or those unable to make rent payments during the coronavirus pandemic. Tenants will be able to apply for up to $4,000 in aid, starting Monday, April 6.

Eligibility is based on income and this fund is only for residents earning less than 80% of Area Median Income (AMI), or $72,000 for a two-person household. A significant amount of this money is ear-marked for households with extremely low incomes — for example, single-person households making less than $25,000 a year — according to the mayor’s press release issued this morning. Residents eligible for new federal unemployment benefits are not eligible to apply to the Rental Relief Fund.

During the week ending March 21, about 10,900 renter households in Boston filed for unemployment benefits, according Metropolitan Area Planning Council estimates. As national unemployment filings top to 6.6 million, it’s predicted the number of Boston households struggling to make rent will rise.

For more information about the rental relief fund and getting help with rent, visit boston.gov.


Thursday, April 2, 2020

3:11 p.m.

Small business owners directly impacted by the COVID-19 shutdown will now be able to access cash relief through the mayor’s $2 million Small Business Relief Fund, launched today and accepting applications from Monday, April 6.

The fund, set-up by Mayor Martin Walsh’s Office of Economic Development, is designed to make it easy for business owners to claim grants that will cover any revenue losses and allow them to stay open without accruing additional debt, or forcing them to close.

“We are committed to helping Boston’s small businesses during this unprecedented time by providing strategic, accessible, and critical financial resources to help them stay afloat and pay employees,” said Walsh. “Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the lifeblood of our neighborhoods. As the response to COVID-19 continues to evolve, we want to make this resource as straightforward as possible for business owners and work one-on-one to ensure they have the most up-to-date information on financial assistance available.”

Eligible small businesses must be registered and operating in Boston, for-profit, employ fewer than 35 employees and make less than $1.5 million in annual revenue. Grants can be used to address rent, fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, lost sales, lost opportunities, and other working capital expenses.

The Fund’s $2 million comes largely from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grants, and $50,000 contribution from the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office.


Monday, March 30, 2020

4:26 p.m.

The Boston Housing Authority and Boston Public Schools will work together to house students and their families currently at risk of displacement or experiencing homelessness during, and up to one year after, this current public health emergency.

The mayor’s office announced today that the coalition will help up to 1,000 families and the first will be be housed by the start of May.

Vouchers will be issued to help make housing affordable for up to 500 families living in shelters through the state’s Leading the Way Home program.

“There has never been a more urgent time to ensure that homeless families with children have safe, permanent affordable housing,” said BHA Administrator Kate Bennett. “In the short term, this initiative is a timely, prudent step that will help reduce the spread of COVID-19, and in the long term, it will allow many more kids to thrive in school and elsewhere.”

The remaining 500 vouchers will go to the families of BPS students living at risk of displacement.

“In addition to providing access to free meals, delivering laptops and Internet to students who need them, providing mental health support and other necessary services, this is an urgent resource for families while navigating the current public health emergency,” said Boston Public Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius. “Providing permanent, stable housing for over 1,000 families is life-changing for our students and I am incredibly thankful to Mayor Walsh and his entire team for ensuring our families and children are a first priority.”

There are currently 4,500 students in Boston that lack a fixed or regular residence, as defined by The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.


Sunday, March 29, 2020

12:25 p.m.

The City has secured over 240 additional beds to increase social distancing in existing shelters, and give those experiencing homelessness a safe space in which to self-isolate and quarantine, in order to help reduce the further spread of COVID-19 in Boston.

There are currently 17 existing beds at Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program’s Barbara McInnis House in the South End. Suffolk Construction has helped build a 38-bed isolation and quarantine facility next to the 112 Southampton Shelter nearby. Another 70 beds will be available at the site of a former, long-term, acute care hospital in Brighton, as The Davis Companies prepares to reopen that facility within days.

Suffolk University staff will repurpose a 172-bed dormitory, to be managed by the Pine Street Inn and the Boston Public Health Commission.
“These sites will enable us to get some of our most vulnerable guests, especially our elders, out of a crowded situation in our congregate shelters,” said Lyndia Downie, president and executive director of the Pine Street Inn. “Pine Street is also very grateful to be working with our partners at the Boston Public Health Commission and Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program. This has been a remarkable collaboration led by the Mayor and his staff and we appreciate his focus on the homeless men and women, who until now, have had very few options.”
To date, the City and its network of shelter providers, directed by the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, have screened more than 8,000 people, tested approximately 100 and identified five positive COVID-19 cases within Boston’s homeless population.


Thursday, March 26, 2020

4:45 p.m.

Today the mayor eased parking restrictions across Boston. This move was designed to help improve access to medical facilities and businesses, and to ease the burden of finding a parking spot for residents during the public emergency.

Residents with a valid permit can park in their neighborhood in a metered or a time-limited parking space, without restriction or payment necessary. Drivers without a parking permit for an area will continue observing usual time limits and meter requirements.

Boston Transport Department will not ticket or tow a vehicle for violating street cleaning regulations during this time. BTD will also not penalize drivers for expired registrations or inspection stickers for the time being.

Other transportation measures the mayor has enforced include:

  • Reduced rates at certain parking garages for medical professionals. Here’s a full list of participating garages.
  • Free 30-day passes for hospital staff wishing to use Boston’s public bike share, Bluebikes.
  • Establishment of temporary pick up zones in front of restaurants offering takeout and delivery only. Parking in these designated areas is limited to five minutes.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

6:04 p.m.

Mayor Martin Walsh’s office and the Department of Innovation and Technology’s Citywide Analytics Team released two data dashboards showing the number of cases of COVID-19 coronavirus in Boston, and throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The first dashboard allows residents to view a graph of the spread of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, and includes daily updates from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health for the number of COVID-19 cases. The second COVID-19 dashboard  (see below) includes information specific to Boston including; total daily cases, the number of cases split by age, recovered cases, death tolls and the number of tests conducted nationwide.

The dashboards are updated every afternoon on weekdays, when public data is released by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) and so contain the most current figures about the state of the outbreak in Boston, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the nation.

1:20 p.m.

The mayor’s Resiliency Fund surpasses $20 million target, less than 10 days after launching. From today, $5.4 million will be distributed bewteen eight local organizations providing critical support to residents, including access to food and support for healthcare systems that serve Boston residents. These organizations are:

  • Greater Boston Food Bank will use this money to expand its capacity to continue receiving and distributing healthy food.
  • Ethos will use funds to support their Meals on Wheels program, through which they deliver more than 8,000 daily meals to elders.
  • About Fresh / Fresh Truck will partner with Katsiroubas Brothers, YMCA and Office of Food Access on its delivery of fresh produce and groceries.
  • Community Servings provide medically tailored meals to ill residents and their families, and will expand delivery to these populations during the pandemic.
  • Project Bread and their FoodSource Hotline has seen a four fold increase in calls during the pandemic, so this grant fund more call center staff.
  • Boston Health Care for the Homeless will use this funding to continue new screening and testing initiatives, creating isolation units and operating medical tents.
  • Boston Medical Center will use this grant to expand patient care, increase support for medical staff, and sustain safe hospital operations in temporary facilities
  • Pine Street Inn will be increasing cleaning of their facilities, and work set-up quarantine sites for people experiencing homelessness.

8:25 a.m.

The Mayor’s Office of Economic Development has created databases for local restaurants and businesses currently open in each Boston neighborhood. They contain additional information on opening hours, delivery services and how to purchase gift cards.

The mayor is encouraging businesses to register to be included in these new databases. His office has also launched the “Small Business Survey” to ensure the City’s response is adequate and is helping Boston businesses in most need during this time.

“I encourage Boston residents to continue patronizing the businesses most impacted by this pandemic — purchase a gift card, order take out, or support your local businesses in whatever way you are able to,” said Walsh in a press release issued this morning. “Our Office of Economic Development is in our neighborhoods, talking with businesses and responding to their immediate needs, and we will keep working to support our small businesses here in Boston.”

The database for open restaurants can be found here: bit.ly/2QL0dZ9

Local businesses still open are listed here: bit.ly/33IPbZP

6:04 a.m.

Amid concerns over the safety of reusable shopping bags, Mayor Martin Walsh issued a temporary Executive Order allowing plastic bag use in Boston for “essential businesses” during the COVID-19 outbreak. These include grocery stores, pharmacies, and restaurants. Plastic bags will be offered and businesses will no longer have to charge customers a fee for checkout bags.


Tuesday, March 24, 2020

CLOSED: Non-essential businesses

11:48 a.m.

Mayor Martin Walsh today launched texting service, Alert Boston, available in Spanish, Haitan Creole, French, Cabo Verdean Creole, and Portuguese, as well as English. Residents are encouraged to sign up by texting BOSCOVID to 99411 to opt-in for alerts, including the city’s latest case numbers, local updates about the spread of the virus, tips on how to stop the spread of coronavirus. To receive these alerts in languages other than English, text the following keywords:

  • Text BOSEspanol to 99411 for Spanish
  • Text BOSKreyol to 99411 for Haitian Creole
  • Text BOSFrancais to 99411 for French
  • Text BOSKriolu to 99411 for Cabo Verdean Creole
  • Text BOSPortugues to 99411 for Portuguese

Boston residents who speak other languages need and deserve to receive information from their city government about this public health emergency just as English speakers do every day,” said Mayor Walsh in a statement. “We are working with dozens of dedicated multilingual staff across City departments and community organizations to support this effort.”

1:05 p.m.
The City of Boston, as well as Brookline, Cambridge, Everett, and Somerville, are offering all hospital staff free 30-day Bluebikes passes. A full list of participating hospitals and contact information to apply for a free pass can be found here.


Monday, March 23, 2020

Governor Baker issued an emergency order requiring all employers not providing “COVID-19 Essential Services” to close workplaces and facilities. The order will go into effect from tomorrow, March 24, at 12 p.m. and last until midday April 7.

Businesses and facilities in Boston that can remain open include:

  • Grocery stores and wholesalers
  • Restaurants offering takeout and delivery
  • Pharmacies
  • Medical facilities
  • Medical marijuana shops recreational marijuana shops are ordered to close
  • liquor stores
  • Gas stations
  • Vehicle garages and mechanics
  • Hardware and home improvement retailers
  • Laundromats
  • Veterinarians
  • Pet supply stores
  • Moving and storage companies
  • Plumbing, electrician and exterminations buinesses
  • Hotels
  • Sober homes
  • Places of worship

Friday, March 20, 2020

5:53 p.m.

This weekend, a thousand City of Boston employees and volunteers will deliver printed information on COVID-19 to all homes in Boston. The pamphlet, available in English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, Chinese, Vietnamese, Cabo Verdean Creole and Russian, will outline details about the virus, list preventative measures to stop its spread, and include information about city resources, including food access sites. Residents who need this information in other languages, including Arabic and Somali, may access it through Boston.gov/coronavirus.


Wednesday, March 18, 2020

CLOSED: Boston City Council

In response to COVID-19 coronavirus, City Council President Kim Janey announced earlier today that this Wednesday’s meeting was going to be held online and closed to the public. Read the full report from the council’s first virtual meeting.


Tuesday, March 17, 2020

CLOSED: Boston Public Schools

From today, students and families can collected packaged meal options at 47 different locations across Boston, every weekday from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Additionally, the City of Boston in partnership with Project Bread, YMCA of Greater Boston, Boston Centers for Youth and Families, and other community organizations will also be providing free meals to school-aged children at various locations and times across the city.

SUSPENDED: Construction work

Employers should maintain the necessary crews to keep their sites safe and secure, keep any materials from blowing away, and prevent trespassing. This work needs to be completed by Monday, March 23, 2020, after which only skeleton crews will be allowed on site to ensure safety. With the approval of the City of Boston‘s Inspectional Services Department, emergency work may continue, including:

  • Emergency utility, road or building work, such as gas leaks, water leaks and sinkholes
  • New utility connections to occupied buildings
  • Mandated building or utility work
  • Work at public health facilities, healthcare facilities, shelters, including temporary shelters and other facilities that support vulnerable populations
  • Work which ensures the reliability of the transportation network
  • Other work necessary to render occupied residential buildings fully habitable

New projects cannot be started unless they fall into one of the categories listed above. The City will review any other requests for exemption from this moratorium on a case-by-case basis. These will be granted if they support increased public health and safety.


Monday, March 16, 2020

CLOSED: Boston Public Libraries

All Boston Public Libraries will close from 6 p.m. this evening until further notice. BPL will expand automatic renewals and allow patrons to keep their books and other materials for an additional 15 weeks, instead of the standard three weeks. All late fines will be waived until May 1, and library patrons will have until October to renew their library card if it is set to expire.

CLOSED: All BCYF pools, gyms and fitness centers

By Wednesday, March 18, all BCYF programming will be suspended. Only select BCYF centers will be open for youth meal distribution during school closures. For a list of meal distribution locations, go to boston.gov/coronavirus.

4:47 p.m.

Mayor Martin Walsh launches a fund to support nonprofits impacted by COVID-19.

The Boston Resiliency Fund will support organizations providing essential services to Boston residents during the pandemic. For now, the priority is to help those that serve meals to Boston’s children and seniors, are equipping Boston Public Schools students with technology to continue schooling remotely, and safeguarding the health of medical professionals on the frontline. Walsh’s office also said that as the pandemic evolves the type of nonprofit eligible for funding may include those not providing “immediate support and relief.”

“In the face of big challenges, our city shows its true colors. We’ve been seeing incredible acts of kindness and generosity and the Boston Resiliency Fund is a perfect example of that,” said Walsh, in a statement released by his office. “Through this fund, we are coordinating Boston’s philanthropic efforts to support families that are facing the greatest need right now. I want to thank everyone who has already contributed, and look forward to seeing how we will all come together during this critical time of need to support one another.”


Sunday, March 15, 2020

PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY DECLARED

Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced that the Boston Public Health Commission is declaring a public health emergency in the City of Boston, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The health and safety of each and every Boston resident is our first priority. At this point, we are undoubtedly experiencing a public health emergency in the City of Boston, and it is clear that we need to activate every tool at our disposal,” said Mayor Walsh.


Saturday, March 14, 2020

6:58 p.m.

The mayor, along with the Greater Boston Real Estate Board, the Massachusetts Apartment Association and the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations announced they are partnering to try and halt evictions while Massachusetts is under a state of emergency. They will encourage property owners to suspend evictions for up to 90 days. This course of action will be reviewed every 30 days.

The Boston Housing Authority issued letters urging housing court to reconsider non-essential evictions of residents and the BHA plan to suspend its filing and prosecution of all Housing Court cases and non-essential eviction actions. This  includes all non-payment, no-fault cases and cause-related cases.


Friday, March 13, 2020

POSTPONED: 2020 Boston Marathon

This morning, Mayor Walsh, Gov. Charlie Baker, Chief Executive Officer of the Boston Athletic Association Thomas Grilk, and President/CEO of John Hancock Marianne Harrison announced the Boston Marathon will be postponed until Sept. 14.

7:40 p.m.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Boston Public Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius announced the district-wide closure of all Boston Public Schools, effective from Tuesday, March 17. They said they expect schools to reopen on Monday, April 27.


Monday, March 9, 2020

CANCELLED: Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in South Boston

“While the risk in Boston remains low, this situation is changing very quickly and we are closely monitoring any local cases,” said Walsh in a statement. “Our top priority is preventing any new cases, to the best of our ability, and we are paying close attention to guidance from public health officials. We encourage all residents to follow preventive measures to avoid illness, such as washing hands and staying home if you are feeling sick, and we will continue to make public any information as this situation develops in Boston.