Earlier this month when Mayor Martin Walsh said the City is taking swift action when establishments do not meet safety protocols he wasn’t kidding.
Since restaurants were able to reopen with capacity restrictions during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic the Boston Licensing Board has instituted a weekly standing emergency hearing on Mondays to address any violations. Those hearings have resulted in immediate closures, when necessary.
Last week the Licensing Board issued a one-day suspension to La Hacienda Restaurant on Meridian Street for exceeding 40 percent of the restaurant’s normal seating capacity.
La Hancienda’s suspension was served on Monday of this week just as the city announced it was lifting seating capacity at area restaurants.
Throughout the winter the Inspectional Services Department worked with Boston Police, Boston Fire, the Licensing Board, and Boston Public Health Commission on enforcement. They had been in constant contact with business owners to make sure they understood the regulations.
However, some, like La Hacienda and several other Boston restaurants were unfortunately found to be in violation and issued suspensions by the Licensing Board last week.
On Monday, Walsh announced that the Governor announced that the State is moving forward in reopening.
“Starting today with Phase 3, Step 2; and starting on March 22 with Phase 4, Step 1,” Walsh said at a press briefing Monday. “Boston is also moving forward, but we have some important exceptions to the changes going into effect today. This is consistent with the City’s cautious approach throughout the crisis. We are moving up to 50 percent maximum capacity at many indoor businesses including gyms, museums, offices, movie theaters, hotels, and stores. We are moving forward to allow the use of fitting rooms in retail stores.”
The city is lifting the capacity limit at restaurants but requiring six feet of space between tables, six people maximum per table, and 90-minute limits on seating. This, like the seating capacity restrictions, will be strictly enforced by the city.
“We are not moving forward with live music in restaurants until at least March 22,” said Walsh. “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 roller skating, laser tag, or trampolines until at least March 22. On those steps, as well as Phase 4, the City of Boston will move forward on March 22, if our case data and public health guidance supports it.”
The Mayor emphasized that the City of Boston is committed to economic recovery and at the same time, keeping people safe and continuing to slow the spread.
“This must be our first priority,” said Walsh. “Our economic recovery depends on our public health progress.”