Chamber News

June 08, 2020 Likes Comments

Fingers crossed for Phase 2; Tim Duncan speaks with city leaders

Phase 2 (technically, Phase 2, part 1) of the state’s reopening plan, begins today.

 
Retailers can open their shops. Restaurants can begin serving outdoors. Hotels can welcome guests.
 
Preventive care, car dealerships, playgrounds, driving ranges, flight schools, funeral homes, home improvements can also resume, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Saturday.
 
Reopening won’t be without bumps, anxiety, added costs, hours of staff retraining and forms and rules.
 
Plexiglass is in short supply. Al fresco furniture is scarce and expensive (O’Hara’s in Newton Highlands built their own). Reduced capacity, deep cleaning and PPE (Karen Masterson at Johnny’s reports face masks alone will cost her $600 a month), will cut into already-slim margins.
 
Just as grocery stores, pharmacies and other businesses adopted best practices over the past several months, there will be adjustments, setbacks and new innovations. We will adopt our own shopping and dining practices to match our comfort level, amidst fears of a new infections and bankruptcies.
 
(Restaurateurs: If you’re offering outdoor dining, complete this form so we can add you to our new directory. Retailers: Make sure your listing is up to date too. If not, use the same form.)
 
Phase 2, Part 2’s start date is not set. Expect it sometime in the next few weeks, depending on health data. This includes indoor dining, massage therapy, nail and tanning salons (tanning salons? Just eat outdoors!) and personal training.
 
Find the full list here.
 
The sector that ‘can’ open, but isn’t
 
Technically, child care facilities and day camps can open today too.
 
But you're not likely to find a place for your kids yet. The guidelines require providers create detailed reopening plans that must be approved by the Department of Early Education and Care. That's going to take time and for some providers may not be possible.
 
The new rules limit class size and add layers of new regulations, raising concerns about their feasibility and whether or not many providers can afford to operate, as Commonwealth Magazine notes.
 
More than 33,000 people had signed a petition on Change.org by Sunday evening. They're asking the state to revise the standards and let providers open on their own terms. They question how they'll teach sharing; what to do when a teacher needs a break; or worry that continuous cleaning will destroy the “good germs to build immune systems.”
 
“By reducing enrollment, requiring more staff and space per child, and by increasing costs for multiple supplies needed, you will cripple private pay businesses,” the petition reads. “If anyone involved in making these regulations has worked with small children, you know damn well none of this is feasible.”
 
Getting older kids to day camp will be tricky too, with new rules about social distancing on buses or other forms of transportation.
 
Children’s Hospital’s Needham vote tonight
 
Needham's (outdoors) Town Meeting will take an important vote tonight to allow Boston Children’s Hospital to open a satellite facility in the Needham Crossing section of the N 2 Innovation District.
 
The proposed project would encompass two buildings at 380 First Avenue and 37 A Street, plus a parking garage. Children’s has agreed to, among other things, pay the full amount that would be otherwise due to in property taxes for office use. And with 200 employees and patients coming from across the country or the globe, it will be great for our hotels, our restaurants and other nearby businesses.
 
Tim Duncan speaks with city leaders
 
Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller, Police Chief David MacDonald and Civil Rights Officer Bruce Apotheker each apologized to Tim Duncan last week for an incident that took place near the Newton resident’s Eddy Street home.
 
Duncan was stopped by police at gunpoint on the afternoon of May 20 while walking with his wife. Police said Duncan fit the physical description of a murder suspect, who was arrested in the same neighborhood the next day. Both Duncan and the suspect are tall Black males (images here).
 
“They couldn’t have been more kind and generous in our conversations,” Duncan told the TAB. “I really respect the self-reflection that all of them showed. That, to me, is a sign of people wanting to get better.”
 
The former Northeastern University athletic director was also gracious in his interview with WGBH’s Jim Braude; the Globe’s Hanna Krueger; and with a TV station in New Orleans (Duncan is now AD at the University of New Orleans but his family still lives here, his children attend our schools).
 
“I wanted to use it as a teaching moment for our student-athletes,” he told the Globe. “I wanted them to know that this can literally happen to anyone on a safe street in one of the most liberal cities in the most liberal states in the country. It still can happen and it did happen to a person they know.”
 
He told the New Orleans station that he’s speaking out because he wants his students “to understand that this just doesn’t happen to people that others call thugs. It can happen to the athletic director who’s there for them.
 
“If they were to stop you on the street,” said Duncan, speaking with a white journalist at WWL-TV, “I don't think they would have pulled their guns. I know that if you were to reach into your pocket to pull out your ID the statistics show there is less of a chance for anything bad to happen. That’s awesome for you and I want that for you but also want that for me.”
 
Fuller says she understood why Duncan spoke out.
 
“His voice is another important part of the powerful chorus protesting racism and injustice in our country,” our mayor wrote her newsletter last week. "I know there is systemic racism in our society. None of us are immune. I am not immune. Newton is not immune, and the Newton Police Department is not immune.
 
“We must seize this opportunity to make sure we, in Newton, are living up to our core values of respect, diversity and acceptance.”
 
Duncan’s experience is not unique. That, of course, is the problem. We must hold ourselves and our communities accountable. I appreciate that Fuller and Newton Police leadership owned what happened on May 20; we’ve seen horrifying examples of the opposite lately. It would be reassuring if there was an independent review of what happened on May 20 as well.
 
Let’s give Duncan the last word.
 
“Of course, every word is hollow until you find out what happens next,” he told the Globe. “But their intentions, like most people’s right now, are to eradicate this type of thing from happening again. The proof is in the pudding. That’s where we as citizens need to hold these people accountable to make sure they follow through.”

President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688
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