Mayor Walsh today announced a voluntary curfew after 9 p.m. and said everybody who goes outside should wear a mask, but that people who are particularly at risk - with diabetes, asthma and heart conditions or being over 65 - shouldn't go outside at all for the next few weeks, except for medical visits or trips to the store for essentials.
Walsh said that the city had 259 new Covid-19 cases over the past 24 hours, up to 1,877 total cases, and that 27% of the city's total Covid-19 cases have come in the past 48 hours.
"It's not normal for me to get up here as mayor and scare the people of Boston," but rapidly escalating Covid-19 numbers just over the past two days mean now is no time for laxity, he said at a press conference outside City Hall.
"Lives are literally at stake," he said, adding he doesn't want to look back in a couple of weeks "thinking we could have done more."
Instead of queuing up outside restaurants for food after 9 p.m., he said, people should rely on delivery. "We have been seeing too many unnecessary trips in the evenings and social distancing problems as people order and wait for their take-out at restaurants," he said.
He added that the curfew would run until 6 am., so that seniors can continue to go to local supermarkets for food.
Walsh said that because people were continuing to do stuff like untying basketball hoops, he was forced to order parks workers to block playing courts altogether. "In some cases it's astonishing," what people have been doing, he said, citing "hundreds of people not practicing social distancing" at the Arnold Arboretum and Castle Island yesterday.
He urged residents to call or connect to 311 if they see people continuing to congregate in city parks.
And he said churches should remain shut on Easter Sunday.
"Absolutely under no circumstance should any house of worship be open next Sunday at all," because the worst thing that could happen would be to put large numbers of people in close quarters. We don't need people congregating, he said: "We need prayers."
He added that the 1,000-bed field hospital at the South Boston convention center should be ready later this week if needed to handle overflow patients who still need care if not as intensive as they might get in a hospital - and that because the new beds and support areas only take up roughly two-thirds of the space in the convention center, there's still room for expansion if needed. Half the beds will before homeless people, the other half for general hospital patients ready for "step-down" care.
Walsh also announced that from now on, City Hall will only be open on Tuesdays and Fridays, and that all people entering will be subject to Covid-19 screening, including a temperature check. Appointments will also still be required to enter the building.
Walsh did not wear a face mask as he spoke, but said he would put one on immediately after he was finished - one made by Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George, who has helped organize an effort to sew masks for hospital workers.