Chamber News

April 30, 2020 Likes Comments

The golden anniversary none of us wanted

It’s the milestone none of us wanted. But here we are: Day 50 of the state-ordered shut-down. We have (at least) 18 days to go before, hopefully, some form of phased-in reopening of the economy. Rent day is tomorrow.

Early on in this crisis, the buzzword was “pivot.”
 
Now, how about “metamorphosis”?
 
Just about nothing is going to operate the way it used to. How it changes will depend primarily on science. But ingenuity, entrepreneurship and luck will matter too.
 
Newton’s restaurants can now sell groceries (new health department guidelines can be found here) but that’s nothing compared to the way our restaurants will have to reinvent themselves once they're allowed to open.
 
And did you read the BBJ story about what Century Bank is doing? They’re in the process of hiring five full-time nurses to check the temperature of employees and visitors to its offices and to enforce mask, glove and distancing guidelines.
 
And they’ve purchased walk-up windows, “the sort that used to be common decades ago before the emergence of ATMs… Century said it couldn’t find a manufacturer that makes the windows anymore, but came across two used ones.
 
…The walk-up windows will go into what are today ATM alcoves. They should be safer for tellers and customers to use, compared with a walk-up desk inside the lobby.”
 
Fuller recommends, won't require, face masks
 
While many municipalities across the state have implemented mandatory face covering regulations (Needham’s emergency order begins Friday), Newton won’t be making it a requirement, at least not yet, Mayor Ruthanne Fuller announced last night.
 
“An order or fine requiring face coverings will not be implemented in the City of Newton at this time,” Fuller wrote in her newsletter. “We will continue to monitor the medical advice from the CDC and MDPH and conditions here in Newton and will revisit this decision as things evolve with all aspects of public health continuing to be our focus.”
 
Instead Fuller said she “will continue to strongly encourage people to wear face coverings, especially where physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain,” Fuller said.
 
I would prefer that the mayor required face coverings inside public spaces. Workers at our grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants and other businesses should wear masks and should not have to face customers who aren’t doing the same. It provides protection and adds a level of confidence for everyone.
 
Our menu today
 
Today, the chamber is hosting two zoominars of note. At 11 a.m. you’re invited to listen in as a group of local retailers discuss the challenges they face going forward and how they’re being forced to adapt.
 
Then at 2 p.m. we’ll get an update from the SBA on its Paycheck Protection Program. Unfortunately, the loan forgiveness calculations and guidelines that every grant recipient is really anxious to understand, haven’t been released by the SBA yet. But the information and chance to ask questions may still be helpful.
 
Now live streaming: Notaries
 
Many attorneys, real estate agents, bankers and others got some welcome news this week when Gov. Baker signed into law new emergency rules regarding the notarizing of documents.
 
Videoconferencing may now be used by notaries to certify business transactions during the COVID-19 state of emergency. The law includes a series of checks and balances to ensure the integrity of the process, while making it easier to notarize wills, trust, health care proxy statements and real estate documents.
 
Some insurance relief too
 
Thanks to chamber member Steve Aronson of Aronson Insurance for sharing the following:
 
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many insurance companies have made individual, varying degrees of premium reductions and/or premium payment delay options to help small businesses. Call your agent/broker and ask for help.
 
The industry has also announced several workers compensation changes that should also help.
  • The Massachusetts Division of Insurance has approved a 6.8 percent reduction in the overall average workers' compensation insurance rates for policies effective on and after July 1, 2020. It should be noted that this is a statewide, all-industries average. Individual classifications will vary.
These rating rule changes may also help:
  • The National Council on Compensation Insurance has issued a ruling that the payroll for “employees who are being paid but are not working … will not be used in the calculation of premium.”
  • If an employer continues to pay its employees while they are working out of their homes (telecommuting) rather than an office, carriers may consider a change from the employer’s governing classification to Code 8810—Clerical Office Employees NOC or Code 8871—Clerical Telecommuter Employees, … based on the duties of the employees while normal business operations are interrupted or suspended.
  • In both cases, policyholders must keep clear payroll records to benefit from these premium reductions.
Finally, this morning from your fellow chamber members
  • Melissa at You-do-it Electronics wrote yesterday to let us know that they are selling face masks, including KN95. They also have Isopropyl Alcohol in various sizes. The store is closed, call to arrange pickup. And You-do-it is sponsoring a local group called M.A.S.C - Makers Against the Spread of COVID-19, which is dedicated to the production of reusable PPE (namely face masks at Boston-area hospitals). Contact her if you can help 3D print or sew masks.
  • And are you ready to up your Zoom game? Stuart Segel, president of Mr. Sid, (which has been dressing CEOs, celebrities, and c-suite executives for five decades from their Newton Centre store and, more recently, in Boston’s Seaport) offers tips for Dressing for Success in the Virtual Meeting Space in a podcast.
I’m going to check out Stuart’s tips but I refuse to wear matching socks until this thing is over.
 
Yep, stay in touch, just don’t touch!
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688

 

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