Boston will begin “cracking down” on the “dozens and dozens” of South Boston house parties and other breaches of coronavirus protocol that Mayor Martin Walsh said are creating a “petri dish” of COVID-19 infections and contributing to the city’s rising numbers.
“We are going to be cracking down,” Walsh told reporters at City Hall on Thursday. “We are looking to strengthen enforcement of COVID restrictions in the city. We have a team of officials from across city departments meeting and working together on this very issue.”
Walsh said police, health officials, the parks department and others were working together, adding that the administration is considering increasing fines and closing some parks.
“We are discussing efforts to tighten enforcement on gathering limits or restrictions on unpermitted public events and unsanctioned activities in our parks,” Walsh said.
The mayor repeated that many of the city’s new coronavirus cases are from people under 30 — a group that is at very low risk of serious coronavirus complications themselves, but who can spread the highly infectious disease to others.
Walsh talked about the activity of younger people with lax following of coronavirus protocols, and cited the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, saying, “So what happens is the young people get COVID, and then a month later, we see a larger spread … in that same neighborhood.”
Walsh floated the idea of fining the landlord and tenants when a residential gathering is found to be in violation of the rules.
The mayor said the prospective steps to toughen up enforcement — for which specifics aren’t available yet — are part of an effort to stop Boston from having to go back to the more draconian closings it went through during the peak of the virus last spring.
“If we don’t do what we need to do, and we don’t have to take responsibility as individuals, we’re going to be in a potential case where I have to stand at this podium and talk about shutting down the city again,” Walsh said.
The mayor and other officials have called out Southie, with an increasingly young population of people often just out of college, at various times over the past several months. First, there was the issue of people at the M Street beach congregating over the summer without masks. And now there’s reports of house parties — “dozens and dozens” just this past weekend, Walsh said, citing Councilors Ed Flynn and Michael Flaherty, who both live in the neighborhood.
“It’s a perfect scenario for a petri dish for the spread of the virus,” Walsh said.
The two councilors earlier this week filed a hearing order to look into further enforcement, including the possibility of raising fines.