Chamber News

Needham / Newton
November 05, 2020 Likes Comments

What happens at 12:01 tonight

At one minute after midnight tonight, Gov. Charlie Baker’s latest guidelines -- mandating eat in restaurants, gyms, liquor stores, entertainment venues and a long list of other businesses close at 9:30 p.m. -- goes into effect.

So will new rules requiring public mask wearing at all times and a 10 p.m. stay at home advisory.
 
Need specifics? Here’s the official guidance:
But will it help?
 
In a Globe article yesterday, three epidemiologists gave Baker's new restrictions mixed reviews.
 
Helen Jenkins, assistant professor at Boston University School of Public Health, wondered if his outdoor face mask mandate (required even if you're more than six feet from anyone) “in and of itself it will do anything” given that “we know outdoor transmission is very low.”
 
“[I wish] that there was better information made available for where transmission is actually happening,” added Jenkins. “It’s tempting to say we should close indoor dining, and other activities that are indoors. It would be nice to have some data to support those actions as well.”
 
As for whether the 10 p.m. curfew (although the guv doesn’t actually call it a “curfew”) is a good idea or not, Julia Marcus, epidemiologist and associate professor at Harvard Medical School, also called for more data to support the decision.
 
“The danger here is enacting policies that seem arbitrary,” Marcus said, “because that’s how the public will lose trust in public health efforts.”
 
And William Hanage, associate professor at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, wondered if the new steps were really the right ones to stop spread.
 
“What we need to do is we just need to get people to avoid the three c’s: closed, poorly ventilated spaces; close contact; and crowds,” Hanage said.
 
While some restaurateurs were relieved that Baker opted for early closing over a full shut down of indoor dining, Mike Fucci, owner of Chef Mike’s on Highland Ave in Needham, was less sanguine.
 
And Fucci is prepared to be defiant.
 
It’s the beginning of the end,” Fucci told WCVB. “Once they try and tell us to close, I’m not going anywhere. Bring the police in. Arrest me. I’m not going anywhere.”
 
Restaurants advocates turn up the heat
 
Meanwhile the state’s two restaurant advocacy groups used Baker’s operating hours roll back as an occasion to lobby for Beacon Hill to pass a long stalled economic development bill. The House version of the bill would cap third party delivery fees and create a restaurant relief fund.
 
“Winter is coming, restaurants are closing everyday, and we have been waiting since August for our lawmakers to pass an Economic Development Bill that would provide much-needed support for distressed restaurants. We urge the Legislature to pass this bill now,” Mass Restaurants United said in a statement.
 
Separately, the Mass Restaurant Association said it is lobbying the administration to modify the closing time hours.
 
“Why are restaurants facing increased regulations, when the science says that private gatherings are the problem?” MRA asked.
 
“Tracing and inspections clearly point out restaurants are not the cause of the spike. Restaurants continue to get frequent inspections, and these inspections show that operators are taking the protocols seriously.”

A contact tracing report issued last week, showed that fewer than two percent of COVID cluster infections were linked to restaurants and food courts.
 
A new batch of contact tracing data should be released tonight.
 
These folks have chutzpa!
 
If you’re like me, you’d probably relish an opportunity right about now to hear a few positive stories of preservice in 2020.
 
If so, please join me tomorrow at 10 a.m. as I speak with the heads of four very different businesses who’ve celebrated their grand opening since March.
 
I’ll ask ‘em why they did it, what they’ve learned and what they’d do differently if they could.
 
We’ll hear from restaurateur Nancy Cushman of Bianca; Rob Rosenblatt at Four Points by Sheraton Newton; Bobby Murphy at Workbar Needham and Brendan Murphy from M. Steinert & Sons.
 
And while we’re sharing stories of resilience
 
Check out this video showing how the West Suburban Y has adapted.
 
The latest hit grocery chain arrives
 
The fast-growing discount grocery chain Ald i moves into our region today, opening a location in Natick and becoming the German company’s fourth spot in Massachusetts, joining Milford, Medford and Leominster, Wicked Local reports.
 
The new store at 321 Speen St. in the Cloverleaf Mall – near the Rte. 9 interchange – opens at 9 a.m., near the Burlington Coat Factory.
 
Aldi, owned by Albrecht Discounts, is in the midst of an expansion to become the third largest grocery retailer, by store count, in the U.S by the end of 2022. The company operates more than 2,000 stores in 36 states.

Investors to closely monitor Tripadvisor call
 
Tripadvisor’s third-quarter earnings report is due tomorrow and, as Lucia Maffei reports for the BBJ, investors will be looking to hear how the Needham-based company thinks an antitrust investigation into Google might help them.
 
Prior to the pandemic hammering world-wide travel, Google’s ability to set the rules for online search and its own entry into the travel business, was seen as Tripadvisor’s biggest business challenge.
 
The U.S. Department of Justice and 11 state attorneys general filed a civil antitrust lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to stop Google from unlawfully maintaining monopolies through anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in search and search advertising, Maffei notes.
 
Today’s need to knows
  • MassDOT has posted the video presentation from the Sept. 30 Needham Street-Highland Ave. construction project presentation and other materials on the project website. Also go there for more information about the three year road renovation and to sign up to receive project updates and meeting notices.
  • BID Needham will host a virtual celebration, “Stronger Together,” in support of the hospital’s Healthcare Heroes Fund this Saturday Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. The program will include testimonials from the front line—physicians, nurses and staff—and one grateful family’s experience with COVID-19. The event also includes an online auction and raffle. Register here.
  • Author Robert Devine will discuss his book “The Sustainable Economy” in virtual talk tonight (Thursday) at 7 p.m. The book is a guide to creating a sustainable economy that will combat global warming while also improving our quality of life. Co-sponsored by Green Newton and the Newton Free Library. Register here.
COVID testing site for employers considered
 
Reminder: If your company has a need for COVID testing in our region, the chamber is working with Project Beacon on a possible local solution. The goal is to set up a local site where businesses could send employees, as needed. 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 should contact Project Beacon at information@beacontesting.com.

We’re 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.
 
This week's good idea
 
Worried about that family member, friend or colleague who usually joins you at Thanksgiving won’t be able to this year due to the governor’s guidelines?
Bakers’ Best Catering in Needham can send them an individual turkey dinner for $21.95 each, or a family turkey dinner for $79.95. Curbside pickup and delivery to homes and offices throughout Greater Boston available.
 
Looking for added Thanksgiving options? We’re creating a directory of area restaurants offering dining or a special takeout menu on Thanksgiving.
 
If you're a restaurant owner/manager who's serving on Thanksgiving and you would like to be added to this list, let us know.
 
OK, we’ll be back tomorrow with more.
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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