Chamber News

Needham / Newton
December 08, 2020 Likes Comments

Needham's simple idea should be adopted everywhere

Retailers and restaurateurs are fighting to survive the holidays and get through rest of this winter. 

And a growing number of customers are, understandably, jittery about indoor dining and shopping.
 
That’s why Needham’s new campaign promoting curbside pickup is really smart.
 
The town has designated one dozen downtown parking spaces as “curbside pickup zones.” The zones are marked by signs that say “10 minute parking. Reserved. Curbside Pickup. Support Local Needham Businesses,” and are located in front of retail stores and restaurants.
 
This campaign isn't really about parking because, sadly, it’s generally easy to find a parking in most commercial centers these days.
 
This is about doing everything we can to promote safe, contactless, local alternatives to Amazon and DoorDash.
 
“It will definitely be easier for our staff to accommodate customers who prefer to purchase items online and pick them up outside the store," says Jerry Michelson of Michelson’s Shoes. "It’s also an added convenience for customers to pull right up to the spots and safely shop and dine locally without having to get out of their cars.”
 
Of course, Michelson’s and many other businesses have been offering curbside pickup since the spring.
 
But having the support of your municipality makes a huge difference.
 
A step towards stopping the spread
 
Yesterday’s opening of a COVID-19 test site at the Riverside MBTA station required a lot of coordination from many people.
 
The drive through testing site right off of I-95 will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week. They’re offering 120 appointment slots daily, and will add more testing capacity in the coming weeks. Tests cost $80. They do not yet accept insurance.
CIC Health (BBJ story here) will be using the highly regarded PCR tests processed at the Broad Institute. No physician referral is needed. Results will generally be available in 24 hours, according to the CIC-Health site.
 
Appointments are required and can be booked online here.
 
“With COVID-19 cases on the rise, I know so many Newtonians will be glad to have a convenient, high-quality, drive-through test option close to home,” said Mayor Ruthanne Fuller.
 
Thanks to the mayor, the MBTA and CIC for making this happen.
 
Additional testing news
 
A testing site also opened yesterday in Framingham, only the tests there are free.
 
The state-funded COVID-19 testing site, in a parking lot owned by Framingham State at 484 Franklin Street, is operated by Project Beacon and requires advance appointments and uses a self-swabbing method in a drive-through format.
 
The Framingham site has a capacity to test set up to 1,000 test daily and reportedly was fully booked into next week by the end of Monday.
 
Waiting more than a week for an appointment is, of course, of limited use and does little to help businesses make timely decisions and illustrates why we still need even more testing.
 
Today’s three need to knows
  • Union Pharmacy in Newton Centre is also offering a COVID-19 PCR test on weekdays. Out if pocket cost is $120. Please go here to book an appointment and choose the Union Pharmacy location.
  • Massachusetts courthouses will continue with limited in-person operations with most proceedings done remotely until Jan. 8, the Trial Court announced Friday. Those with scheduled court business are advised to contact the court clerk for information about a specific courthouse. (WBUR)
Those MBTA cuts may be scaled back
 
MBTA brass suggested Monday that they’re backing off from some of those proposed service cuts because of feedback from the public and changing budget conditions, including a new possibility of federal funding.
 
The T’s original proposal eliminated some bus routes, late-night bus service, late-night rapid transit service, weekday commuter rail service after 9 p.m., and weekend commuter rail. (CommonWealth).
 
Yikes, that's a lot of closed restaurants!
 
More than 110,000 restaurants have closed permanently or long-term nationwide, the National Restaurant Association reported Monday.
 
The nationwide tally — representing one in six restaurants — was up from about 100,000 shutdowns in a September survey, Bloomberg reports.
 
In a business that has always operated on razor thin margins, 59 percent of operators said their total labor costs as a percentage of sales are higher than they were pre-pandemic.
 
Thirty-seven percent of restaurateurs say it is unlikely they will still be in business six months from now if there are no additional government relief packages.
 
But the Hill reports that “last-minute sticking points are threatening to push” federal stimulus talks into next week.
 
The Washington Post published a sobering article this weekend about more than two dozen federal stimulus programs designed to help cash-strapped workers and businesses that are set to expire in the next few weeks,
 
Baker hints at coming changes
 
The pressure continues to mount on Gov. Charlie Baker to impose new restrictions on economic activity, with the Globe reporting over the weekend about a group of mayors and a leading health expert calling for further restrictions.
 
And a new survey out this morning shows public support for more restrictions too.
 
Yesterday the governor announced that the state’s hospitals would temporarily curtail inpatient elective surgeries to make room for additional patients with COVID-19.
 
When asked if any other changes or closures are coming, he said he’ll have “more to say soon.”
 
That hasn't been his typical answer. For weeks he's been saying stepping back further wasn't warranted by the data. But the data is changing for the worst.
 
Toward the end of his briefing, Baker once again defended keeping restaurants open when he was asked why he considers large family gatherings to be extremely "risky," in contrast to indoor dining.
 
Watch the first couple minutes of this video for Baker's answer...

 

That's all for today. See you tomorrow.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688

Your chamber is here when you need us.
Dine out. Take out. Shop locally. Mask up. And tip generously.

 

 

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