March 17 2020

Order to Mostly Close Restaurants Poised to Hit Burlington Hard but Residents Can Help

By: Rich Hosford

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s coronavirus-related order to stop all in-house dining at Massachusetts restaurants and limit gatherings to 25 people and under is likely going to hit restaurants and their employees hard and, as everyone knows, Burlington has a lot of restaurants. 


“The feeling among local restaurants is ‘major concern,’” Burlington Area Chamber of Commerce President Rick Parker said after a conference call with area restaurant owners and managers. “This is something unprecedented, we’ve never seen anything like it.”


Parker said he hopes everyone adheres to the governor’s orders in order to help ensure the virus’s spread is limited but he said it is possible to support local businesses even as residents take precautions. 


“If you want to support local businesses you can do so through safe methods,” he said. “That includes take-out, pick-up and delivery. We need to keep the economy flowing as much as we possibly can.” 


On top of that, Parker said that with restaurants being closed for in-house dining that means servers are going without tips. He urges people doing pick-up and take-out to add a tip even if they normally don’t in those situations. 


“Every little bit helps,” he said. “These people are your neighbors, not just faceless workers, they are a part of our community.” 


The chamber has posted this list of restaurants that are offering pick-up and/or delivery. 


Parker also said that now would be a good time to buy gift cards you might otherwise purchase for gifts later in the year. Also, he said, if you have an organization that has benefited by receiving gift cards from local restaurants for charity auctions or other fundraisers now would be a good time to return the favor. 


“If you’ve ever benefited from the generosity of our restaurant community by receiving a gift card now is the time to pay it back,” he said. 


At the town level, Burlington's new Economic Development Director Melisa Tintocalis is trying to get businesses and their employees the necessary information to connect to available resources to weather the storm. 


“These past few days have been extremely stressful for all of us in one way or another,” she wrote in a statement. “More specifically, state-wide efforts to reduce the spread of  the coronavirus through mandated closures and business limitations have created extreme hardships for many of us in Burlington and our neighboring communities. We want you to know that the Town of Burlington is working with state and local agencies to share information and assist our local businesses, their employees, and families during this unsettling time.” 


She created a page on the town website with current information from the state and the town on the coronavirus as well as links to organizations like the U.S. Small Business Administration which can provide relief for small businesses during emergencies and disasters. Check out the page here.


Finally, Tintocalis said that as things progress the community should be ready to pull together to see everyone through this trying situation. 


“An effective response is going to require the work not only of municipal and state leadership, but also volunteers and community members as well,” she said. “We anticipate that many people will be asked to help out in ways they couldn’t have imagined before, but at the same time we know the Burlington community is willing and well-equipped to address this challenge.” 


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