Chamber News

Needham / Newton
December 16, 2020 Likes Comments

There's light at the end of the tunnel but we're still in the tunnel

“There’s light at the end of the tunnel, but remember, we are still in the tunnel.”

That’s how Melissa Jocelyn, nursing director at Mass. General, summed our world up yesterday. And if you ask me, she was spot on.
“On behalf of all of our nurses and healthcare colleagues, I do want to join with the governor in asking, even begging, each of you, to follow the state guidelines to refrain from gathering for the Christmas holidays,” Jocelyn added during her appearance at Gov. Charlie Baker’s press briefing yesterday.
I’ve been watching the governor’s briefings since April. They’ve become pretty predictable. That isn’t a criticism.
Week after week, Baker stands up there and tries to find new ways to deliver “the talk.”
Don’t travel. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Practice social distancing. Stop being familiar with familiar people. Celebrate only with your household. Over and over.
Sometimes, as he did yesterday, Baker begins with a personal story.
But really, it’s your standard dad lecture (and as a father I feel his pain), or as Jocelyn called it, "begging."
"Public health officials and our administration have warned folks for weeks to avoid large holiday gatherings heading into Thanksgiving because when folks are at home with family or friends, they do tend to let their guard down," Baker said.
How did all those warnings work out? At least 689 people have died in the state from complications from COVID-19 since Thanksgiving.
And the numbers keep going in the wrong direction.
"More people are sick, our hospital system is feeling the strain, more people need hospital-level care, and health care workers are being pushed, once again, to their limits to take care of those with COVID and others."
What happens after Baker delivers 'the talk'
After he begs us all to behave, reporters raise their hands to ask when he’s going to close down restaurants and other parts of the economy.
This happens every time.
Since there’s either no way -- or no will -- to curtail private gatherings, we hear calls to slam-shut our barely-crawling economy, because, well that’s the only thing our leaders apparently have the authority -- or the will -- to control.
Beginning Friday, gyms in Newton will close; even though most of our fitness clubs here are doing an exemplary job enforcing all the safety protocols – including masks, cleaning and strict social distancing -- and have not been a source of any documented spread.
Also on Friday, the Showcase SuperLux at The Street will close; even though they too, have been sticklers for safety, have no documented cases and have invested in the finest virus-slaying air purification system money can buy.

Museums, such as Waterworks at Coolidge Corner are closed now too, in spite of superhigh ceilings and rigid crowd limits.
Mayor Ruthanne Fuller and other mayors from around the region ordered those and other steps this week because haven’t been able to flatten the curve with their passionate versions of the talk either.
And the calls for closings grow louder
Meanwhile, the drumbeat to close indoor dining grows louder daily…Even though, repeat after me, the vast majority of restaurants too have done a good job maintaining standards, are strictly monitored and, let’s be honest, aren’t exactly crowded.
Baker has for the most part resisted calls to close the economy further, making only relatively modest adjustments instead.
But -- after begging again yesterday – our governor admitted he may soon not have a choice.
"If our hospitals can't keep up, we have few options left other than more restrictions," Baker said.
How about this instead guv?
Maybe instead of begging everyone to follow scientifically proven protocols, Charlie Baker should buy every Massachusetts resident one of these.
Today’s three need to knows
  • The SBA has extended its deadline to apply for its Economic Industry Disaster Loan to Dec. 31. If your COVID-19 EDIL was declined, you can request reconsideration within six months of the date of the decline letter. Learn more
  • The Taunton Area Chamber and MA Small Business Development Center Southeast Regional Office hosted a webinar with SBA last month about the PPP Forgiveness process. Watch the video here.
Needham Y to close facility
The Charles River YMCA in Needham is closing its satellite location on Chestnut Street after serving the community from that facility for 24 years.
The Y will shift all operations to its Great Plain Ave. location and is in the process of procuring a large, heated tent to house free weights and strength training equipment.
They will continue to provide cardiovascular exercise equipment in safe spaces with protective screens indoors. Group cycling and group exercise classes will continue outdoors as long as the weather permits and will be brought indoors and/or offered virtually in inclement weather.
This is heartbreaking, considering that 11 months ago the Y was talking about having outgrown its facilities, not shrinking.
Throughout the pandemic the Charles River Y safely served 360 children in its preschool and youth soccer program and another 200 in basketball, T-ball, and sports sampler programs. 270 children safely participate in swimming lessons and 56 youth are now competing as part of the Tsunami Swim Team.
They also offer online studio streams live classes daily, with a library of over 500+ on demand classes, offers virtual personal training and is registering for specialty health classes. Details at
Wellesley shopping district to get upgrades
Linden Square in Wellesley is in line for a $7 million comprehensive property improvement plan for over the next two years, Boston Real Estate Times reports.
Federal Realty Investment Trust will be working with HFA Architects on the project which will include the addition of several new outdoor amenities and also incorporate post-COVID considerations to ensure shoppers feel safe while accessing the center’s resources.
The project was recently approved by the town’s design board.
What can local do for you
The U.S. Postal Service says its becoming overwhelmed with a historic crush of holiday mail. UPS and FedEx have cut off deliveries for some retail chains, reports the Washington Post.
But here’s the good news: If you haven’t completed your holiday shopping, we have an alternative!
Check out the chamber’s online directory designed to help you find local services, merchants, restaurants and organizations within our communities.
We also have lists for local retailers, gift card deals, local dining (including our holiday dining and take out directory) and our curated ‘shop local market’ for locally made or locally branded items that make the perfect gifts for clients, family and friends.
And for anyone who is uncomfortable going inside a place of business, many establishments are happy to provide contactless delivery and bring your order out to your car.
Shop as if jobs and livelihoods depended on it. Because they do. And please share these directories with coworkers, family and friends.

President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
Your chamber is here when you need us.
Dine out. Take out. Shop locally. Mask up. And tip generously


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