The city of Boston will reopen its public libraries to in-person visitors starting next month and increase its number of youth programs as COVID-19 cases continue to drop, Mayor Kim Janey announced Tuesday.
In a press conference, Janey said the library system will re-open in June for limited in-person services, prioritizing programs to help residents recover economically and catch up in school. This is expected to include "robust summer programming for both adults and youth," according to the city.
The Boston Centers for Youth & Families will being offering more in-person activities in line with Phase 4, Step 1 of the state's reopening plan, Janey said. According to the city, this will allow for more youth programs, such as arts and crafts and game nights.
Under the plan, BCYF will be able to provide summer day programs at several centers.
Janey also said City Hall in June will begin offering in-person services by appointment four days a week.
"I am excited to welcome back more residents to City Hall, for the joy that our libraries and summer programs will bring," Janey said. "I am also grateful for the city employees who have pivoted throughout this pandemic to safely deliver critical services to the people of Boston."
Janey said has asked officials to look at potentially accelerating the city's reopening plan "in light of the improving public health metrics."
The mayor said she hoped to make a decision about accelerating the timeline in the "coming days and perhaps next week."
The data "indicates we are in a much stronger position to loosen some of the restrictions in terms of our timeline," Janey said.
Boston has been following Massachusetts' lead in reopening from COVID regulations, but with a three-week delay on many of the changes.
The city aligned with the state on sports stadium capacity on Monday to 25%.
Last Friday, Boston dropped the requirement that people wear masks when outside and at a safe distance from others. And the city has increased its capacity restrictions on public gatherings to 100 people indoors and 150 outdoors.
Other measures, like the return of nearly regular bar service, street festivals and the ultimate lifting of COVID regulations for all businesses will be pushed back by about three weeks from the state's plan, Janey said. For example, where Massachusetts plans to lift all business regulations Aug. 1, Boston plans to do so Aug. 22.
"We are a denser community than many other municipalities or towns across the commonwealth, and we have vulnerable populations here. As we continue to get folks vaccinated, we hope to continue to see the data trending in the right direction and we will continue to loosen restrictions," Janey said in a press conference last week.
Statewide, on May 29, gathering limits will go up to 200 people indoors and 250 outdoors while bars, beer gardens and wineries can reopen without having to serve food.
By Aug. 1, all other businesses will be allowed to reopen without capacity limitations. (Read the full guidelines for Massachusetts here.)
The city is expected to resume road races, tournaments and other outdoor sports events, and allow for singing to return indoors on June 1.
June 19 is when Boston will follow suit on the state's May 29 changes: seated service at bars, beer gardens, wineries and distilleries; street festivals and parades at 50% capacity; restaurants will be able to serve alcohol without also serving foods, and they can serve as many as 10 people per table.
Finally, all business restrictions will be lifted in Boston on Aug. 22, if the public health situation allows for it.