Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has now followed in the footsteps of several other states, such as New York and California: On Monday, March 23, he issued a stay-at-home advisory that will be in effect from noon on March 24 until April 7, an effort to curb the continued spread of the novel coronavirus.
All nonessential businesses will close for that time period — although they are allowed and encouraged to continue remote operations however possible — and residents are urged to stay at home as much as possible and avoid unnecessary interactions. Gatherings of more than 10 people are also banned.
Restaurants offering takeout and delivery are considered essential businesses that can remain open (although with no dine-in service, according to the previously announced measure), as are liquor stores. Grocery stores also fall under this umbrella. All will be allowed to continue to operate, as well as other businesses deemed essential: pharmacies, gas stations, manufacturers, pharmaceuticals, etc.
For restaurants, this new advisory doesn’t really change anything, since they’ve already been under the no-dine-in measure since March 17. It will be in place until at least April 6, with restaurants only able to offer delivery and takeout.
Another thing that hasn’t changed: Restaurants owners and employees are in an unprecedented situation and are desperately asking for help. The state has announced one measure that will allow some restaurants to delay meals tax payments for several months, but it won’t help everybody, and it won’t help much. Restaurant owners are asking legislators, landlords, and lenders for more help, from rent abatement to full cancellation of the meals tax until they’re able to fully reopen.
While some restaurants are temporarily closing entirely, others are ramping up their takeout and delivery efforts — or pivoting if they didn’t previously focus on takeout or delivery. (Take flashy South Boston Italian restaurant Fox & the Knife, for example; it’s offering an abbreviated dinner menu for takeout and delivery but has also lunged into offering fresh pasta and pints of sauce and other accoutrements.)
While some states, including New Hampshire, are temporarily allowing restaurants to sell alcohol with takeout and delivery orders, Massachusetts is not yet doing so, although it’s not out of the realm of possibility.