Chamber News

Needham / Newton
November 03, 2020 Likes Comments

Guv to us: Be home by 10 p.m.

Our minds have been made up for years. Tonight we’ll at least start to understand what our future looks like (even if it takes time).

But why not take 30 minutes today at noon and try not think about it? Or at least not think about it as much.
 
We’ve asked Kip Hollister to guide us all in a free, 30-minute, guided mediation via Zoom. (Does the Boston Chamber's dues include benefits like this?) 
 
Baker to everyone: Be home by 10 p.m.
 
“What we should not do,” Gov. Charlie Baker said near the start of his big announcement yesterday, “is shut down our economy or our schools.
 
“Schools are not spreaders, here or anywhere else, and its been proven now over and over and over again by real life experience and longitudinal studies,” the governor continued.
 
“And in Massachusetts the vast majority of employers and employees and customers have done a great job of playing by the rules and limiting transmission.
 
"The simple truth is too many of us have become complacent in our daily lives.”
 
From there, Baker unveiled a new series of steps to slow COVID or risk hospitals being overrun by the holidays.
 
Starting Friday, all residents over the age of five are required to wear a mask indoors and outdoors in public, no matter the distance from others. MBTA police will be empowered to fine violators up to $300. Employers will be allowed to require employees who claim a medical exemption from wearing a face covering to provide a note from a doctor.
 
Restaurants, liquor stores, gyms and health clubs, entertainment venues and a long list of other “non-essential” businesses must close by 9:30 p.m. Take out and delivery can continue later.
 
And he's issuing a stay at home advisory that will require the public to stay home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., except to go to work or for essential purposes; while indoor gathering limits will be lowered to 10 people from 25.
 
How Baker’s moves were received
 
While some business groups criticized Baker’s moves, they weren’t as strict as I feared.
 
"It is unfortunate when businesses that worked hard for months dutifully complying with every state guideline, protocol, regulation, restriction, and mandate must now scale back,” National Federation of Independent Business State Director Christopher Carlozzi told State House News.
 
"Instead of penalizing businesses playing by the rules that are already experiencing a drop in customers and sales, the state should attempt to take a more targeted approach," Carlozzi added.
 
Bob Luz, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, questioned the early closing, telling Bloomberg Baystate Business Hour that "shutting restaurants down early doesn't stop people from gathering."
 
"We're talking about employees that have been ravaged," Luz said. "And this is just, you know, another kick in the gut to them."
 
But chef Jody Adams, of the advocacy group Mass Restaurants United told the Globe she had worried Baker would impose a two-to-three week shutdown after watching similar restrictions rolled out in Europe, “which would have been a disaster,” she said. “We have perishable produce and staff holding on by their fingernails.”
Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts told the BBJ he thinks Baker acted in “a balanced and timely way to prevent even worse options during the Christmas season.”
 
“Hopefully it also helps prevent a crazy quilt of local orders, as it targets those late night gatherings which have been the spread problem, and which have likely been alcohol-related,” Hurst said.
 
"The governor made the right decision at the right time to try to keep us healthy as well as to allow us to re-open schools and nurture the economy," said Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller. "I know this is hard, and, yet, we need to change the trajectory of this disease. We can do this."
 
Is your company in need of COVID testing?
 
Repeating this item from yesterday…
 
The chamber is working with Project Beacon to make additional COVID-19 testing available to employers and institutions in the Newton-Needham-Wellesley area. Project Beacon is founded by the Broad Institute, F-Prime Capital, and GV, and is focused on providing low cost, end-to-end COVID 19 testing solutions.
 
Project Beacon is a social benefit organization focused on helping to increase the capacity, availability, accessibility, and affordability of COVID-19 testing in Massachusetts. It has no profit motive and any excess revenues over costs will be used to support public needs or, at the end of the project, donated to charity.
 
Employers can work with Project Beacon to implement a testing regimen, set up a site, or develop a testing strategy for employees. Costs begin at $40 per test depending on the scope of services involved. The tests are processed by labs at the Broad Institute and results are generally within 24 hours.

Employers interested in learning more can contact Project Beacon at information@beacontesting.com.

Project Beacon needs a location too
 
The chamber is also working with Project Beacon to find a COVID testing location in the Newton-Needham-Wellesley area. If you have any ideas for a potential indoor or outdoor site contact me.
 
Property owners agree to pause evictions
 
Landlords representing thousands of apartment units in Massachusetts have agreed to pause evictions for failure to pay rent until 2021 and to work with tenants who are struggling amid the pandemic, State House News reports.
 
By signing the Greater Boston Real Estate Board's housing stability pledge, property holders and landlords said they would communicate with tenants experiencing financial hardship about emergency support programs that could help them cover rent. They also said they will pursue repayment plans and seek mediation before turning to formal eviction proceedings.
 
Companies signed onto the board's housing stability pledge include Chestnut Hill Realty, Avalon Communities Inc., National Development, Windsor Property Management, Winn Residential, Equity Management Realty, Wingate Management, Schochet Companies, Peabody Properties Inc., and Corcoran Management Company.
 
Today’s need to knows
  • Mass Life Sciences is offers research Infrastructure grants for capital projects that support the life sciences ecosystem in Massachusetts by enabling and supporting life sciences research and development. Application deadline is Nov. 20.
  • Newton native Jason Hehir, the director of the Emmy award-winning Michael Jordan documentary The Last Dance, will kick off Newton Schools Foundation’s 10th Newton Inspires: A Celebration of Ideas and Community, on Nov. 10 at 7 p,m. The live talks and presentations will be delivered via Zoom — once a month through October 2021. Proceeds support Newton Schools Foundation. Go here to learn about sponsorship.
  • Lawyers Clearinghouse provides pro bono legal services to help small businesses and nonprofits who will need assistance dealing with employment and contract issues as well as those needing help to navigate and apply for assistance through the CARES Act.
A deep dive into zoning
 
A recent report by the Boston Foundation’s Boston Indicators program and the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program takes a deep dive into how increased housing near transit could benefit the region’s housing shortage, reduce dependence on cars and curtail climate change, all while being profitable enough to interest developers without public subsidies.
Zoned Out: Why Massachusetts Needs to Legalize Apartments Near Transit includes a fascinating cost analysis focused on Wellesley, Needham and a couple other communities. A video of a panel discussion is here.
 
On Dec. 7 at 1 p.m. our chamber will host a presentation by the study’s authors via Zoom that will pay a particular focus on how the report’s finding might apply in our area. Details to follow.

Outdoor classroom space available in Wellesley
LINX recently created three outdoor classrooms at its location on Linden Street in Wellesley. The classrooms are not used most weekday mornings, Saturday afternoons, and Sundays.
 
Rather than let the facility sit empty the company recently partnered with B/SPOKE to host their mat-based classes but they still have availability to partner with others for pop-up shops, events, product demonstrations, pick-up location, or other ideas. Contact Amy Fuller Boyd to discuss. (781) 235-3210.
 
Not happening
 
Any optimists out there who thought possibly, just possibly, once the polls closed, our nation’s leaders would put political posturing aside and try to help its citizens and small business owners navigate the worst health crisis of our life time, must have us confused with somewhere else.
 
Over the weekend Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Congress won’t be taking up any stimulus bill until 2021.
 
Fingers crossed tonight, okay?
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688
Your chamber is here when you need us.
Dine out. Take out. Shop locally. And tip generously.

 

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