Chamber News

June 05, 2020 Likes Comments

Here's an idea we should 'borrow' from Texas

It's Friday!

We’re smart in Massachusetts. But here’s an idea we should “borrow” from Texas.
 
We should adopt the Texas Restaurant Promise, a pledge that all of us will act safely when restaurants reopen.
 
The Texas Promise asks restaurants, employees and customers to promise to practice social distancing, hand washing, not show up sick, and so on.
 
Our Massachusetts Restaurant Promise should also include a commitment to be patient. This is all new. We’re all nervous about how reopening our economy will work. Or if it will work.
 
Owners are nervous. Employees are nervous. The public is nervous. And our health inspectors and public safety folks are nervous.
 
There will be hiccups along the way. But we got this.
 
Children’s Hospital’s Needham expansion to be decided under the stars
 
If all goes well on Monday night another major employer will be moving next door to TripAdvisor, SharkNinja, NBCUniversal in Needham.
 
Boston Children’s Hospital is looking to open a satellite facility in the Needham Crossing section of the N 2 Innovation District.
 
The proposed project, which will go before Town Meeting outdoors (yes, outdoors!) on Monday, would encompass two buildings at 380 First Avenue and 37 A Street, plus a parking garage.
 
This is a terrific opportunity. Children’s will be offering pediatric specialty services, a great benefit to local families who would no longer have to schlep to Longwood Medical, or elsewhere, for some services.
 
There’s also a great economic benefit. While exempt from paying real estate and personal property taxes, 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, this will be great for our hotels, our restaurants and other nearby businesses.
 
Coupled with last month’s news that tech media company IDG Inc. is relocating from Framingham to the former PTC campus, Children’s arrival will mean that every major parcel in Needham Crossing will be occupied. That’s quite an accomplishment if you think back just five years when TripAdvisor opened in what was mostly a desolate sea of parking lots.
 
The project requires a 2/3rd vote Monday to approve a zoning change but enjoys broad support.
 
Hope it doesn’t rain.
 
Candidates for Congress confirmed
 
The field of candidates vying to fill the 4th Congressional District seat currently held by Rep. Joe Kennedy has been finalized. Nine Democrats and two Republicans have qualified for the ballot, WPRI reports.
 
Newton residents (and City Councilors) Jake Auchincloss and Becky Grossman; Brookline residents Dave Cavell, Alan Khazei, Ihssane Leckey, Natalia Linos, Jesse Mermell and Ben Sigel; and Wellesley resident Christopher Zannetos — qualified for the primary ballot by Tuesday’s deadline.
 
On the Republican side, two candidates — Julie Hall of Attleboro and David Rosa of Dighton — will compete. The primary will be on Sept. 1.

Newton dining regs released
 
The City of Newton released its guidelines for its Newton Al Fresco outdoor dining program, yesterday afternoon. (Specifics, including steps owners need to complete - here.)
 
Under the rules, restaurants can use either their own parking lots or adjacent sidewalks for table service in accordance with state safety standards. It also speeds up the process to allow restaurants with alcohol licenses to serve outdoors. And it temporarily allows all businesses, including restaurants, to place sandwich boards on the sidewalk to promote their business, something that was not allowed before (yes, many folks did anyway).
 
“The city is also exploring whether restaurants might be able to expand into our public parking spaces and streets but we haven’t yet landed on a decision,” Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller wrote in a letter announcing the program. (Here's hoping for a successful "exploration," mayor!)
 
Outdoor dining begins with the start of Phase 2 of the governor’s reopening plan, which could be Monday (Baker will make that decision tomorrow). However, there are step restaurants statewide need to take now, so be sure to review the guidelines.
 
(Here’s Wellesley’s temporary outdoor seating permit application and news about how businesses are responding there.)
 
What to do if an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19

Massachusetts requires the employers notify their local board of health if they become aware of a positive COVID-19 case at the workplace. You will likely be asked to assist with contact tracing and advising workers to isolate and self-quarantine. Testing of other workers may also be recommended consistent.
 
The U.S. Department of Labor recently issued Revised Enforcement Guidance for Recording Cases of Coronavirus. Many private-sector employers with more than 10 employees are required to keep a record of and report serious work-related injuries and illnesses.
 
Meanwhile, several area business associations have teamed up to ask federal and state lawmakers for protection from liability risks during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Globe’s Jon Chesto explains here.
 
Riverside D Line shut down begins tomorrow
 
The MBTA will shut down the Green Line's D Branch for 18 days in June, the latest step to accelerate maintenance work while ridership is low. The closures begin tomorrow (Saturday) through June 14 and from June 20 through June 28, with shuttle buses deployed during those days.
 
The upgrades are designed to make service through Newton more reliable, faster, safer, and, when there are failures, response times faster. Over 21,462 feet of running rail will be replaced as well as turnouts, switches and signal equipment. Free shuttles will run from Riverside to Kenmore. Information is here.
 
Have a good weekend folks (and, did you notice, no mention of the you-know-what?).
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688
Your chamber is here when you need us.

 

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