BROOKLINE — The Brookline Select Board, Town Administrator Mel Kleckner, Director of Health and Human Services Dr. Swannie Jett announce that the town has taken several actions as part of its evolving response to the COVID-19 emergency.
Evictions and Landlord Access Restricted
The Select Board and Dr. Jett have ordered a moratorium on eviction proceedings for both residential and commercial tenants for the duration of the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis.
Additionally, landlords are prohibited from seeking entrance to a property for any non-emergency matter, including showing the property to prospective tenants, until further notice. A landlord or their designee may still access properties to fulfill their obligations to maintain their property and ensure suitable living conditions for their tenants.
Town Urges State to Adopt Statewide Construction Moratorium
Town Administrator Kleckner has reached out to Governor Charlie Baker, urging his administration to adopt a statewide construction moratorium as the COVID-19 crisis reaches its most critical tipping point to date.
The Town of Brookline currently has a voluntary construction moratorium in place, but has not acted — as some nearby communities have — to adopt a mandatory ban, as doing so would contradict existing state guidance on the matter.
“We strongly believe that it’s incumbent upon the Commonwealth to take the lead on this issue and provide clear guidance that any construction not in support of the public health response to this emergency be put on hold,” Kleckner said. “At this time, however, I don’t believe the town would be within its authority to contradict state guidance on the issue and therefore I’ve urged Governor Baker to act to protect the health and well being of construction workers and enable us to better deploy local resources to support our community.”
Town Enacts Enhanced Regulations on Food Establishments
The Brookline Department of Public Health has adopted a series of enhanced regulations for food service providers to protect the health of customers and staff alike.
- All establishment staff must wear protective face covering that covers their nose and mouth, gloves and eye protection during all service in the establishment.
- All establishments are required to install temporary Plexiglas type barriers at customer service counter areas.
- Customers must wear protective face covering while inside the establishment.
- All entry doors must have a posting advising customers that face covering and social distancing must be maintained inside and outside the establishment.
- Establishment staff must supervise and enforce this requirement.
- Establishments must increase employee illness surveillance by continuing to ask if staff have been exposed to COVID-19, ensuring employees don’t come to work while ill and taking a daily temperature reading of employees at the start of each work shift. Daily surveillance results must be documented by staff noting employee and position.
For establishments offering takeout service, the Department of Public Health requests establishment’s transition to contact free method of sales, such as:
- Having customers order and pay online or over the phone for their food products
- Products can then be placed in a pickup location at the entry area of the establishment.
- Curb side pickups remains an option. Should you need a temporary “No Parking Sign for Take Out/Pick Up” please contact: Meredith L. Mooney at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additionally, the town Department of Public Health has ordered that all establishments conducting delivery, as well as third party delivery providers, implement the following policies:
- Advise customers they will be conducting a Contact Free delivery, with payment — including tip — taken in advance over the phone.
- Receive directions for where the customer wants their food placed (i.e. on steps, by garage, front porch, in mailbox etc.)
- Delivery staff must wear protective mask, gloves and eye protection during delivery service to the customer.
- Delivery packaging must stay closed and sealed. If the delivery package seal has been compromised the delivery must be denied.
- All pens, swipe card devices, portable delivery holding/warming units must be wiped down with a sanitizing wipe or solution before and after each delivery.
State Updates Regulations for Grocery Stores
The state announced that grocery stores must limit their occupancy to 40 percent of its normally-permitted occupancy level in order to promote social distancing, and staff are required to monitor the amount of people inside at any given time.
The state also recommended that store aisles be “one-way” to keep people moving through the store and limiting their interactions. For the complete state order, click here.
Town of Brookline Adopts Consumer Protections
The Select Board adopted multiple provisions laid out in recently-enacted state emergency legislation, including:
- Deferral of May 1 deadline for property tax bills until June 1.
- Extension of deadline for applications for tax exemptions, residential exemptions and small commercial exemptions
- Waiving interest and and penalties for late payment of tax bills with a due date on or after March 10 if payment is made by June 30.
Town to Expand Sidewalks in High Traffic Areas
The Select Board has recommended that the Transportation Board act to temporarily expand sidewalks in high traffic commuter areas, authorizing pedestrians who commute to essential jobs to treat a portion of the roadways as sidewalks.
The Transportation Board will discuss the matter further at its meeting this evening.
Doing so will allow pedestrians to safely walk while practicing social distancing.
There are now 93 positive cases of COVID-19 among residents in Brookline, according to the Department of Brookline Public Health, as well as three cases among non-resident employees of the town. Public health officials expect numbers to continue to increase in line with increased access to testing.
The Town of Brookline’s COVID-19 website, BrooklineCOVID19.com, is updated regularly with a variety of information about the emergency’s impact on services and the community.
Additional Updates and Information, In Case You Missed Them
CDC Now Recommends Covering Your Face in Public
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has modified its guidance around face masks and coverings, and now recommends that all people — whether they are sick or not — wear a face covering of some kind whenever they leave their home.
Doing so can help lessen the risk of contracting the virus through respiratory droplets.
Dr. Jett emphasizes that this guidance is especially critical for workers in the foodservice industry and grocery stores, and has communicated with Brookline’s grocers to ensure they are aware that their workers should be covering their faces.
Main Library to Serve as Fire Station
In an effort to further distance its members from one another and reduce the likelihood of spread through the department, the Brookline Fire Department and Public Library of Brookline are partnering to convert the main library, 361 Washington St., into an auxiliary fire station.
New Guidance for Restaurants Regarding Beer and Wine Sales
The Commonwealth has acted to temporarily allow establishments licensed for on-premises malt beverage and wine to make those items available for off-premises consumption. Licensed establishments may sell up to 192 ounces of malt beverages or 1.5 liters of wine for off-site consumption as part of a transaction in which food is also being purchased.
Licensees may sell these items from when they open until midnight, or their licensed closing time, whichever is earlier. Malt beverages and wine may be sold with food orders for both takeout or delivery customers.
To read the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission’s full guidance, click here.
Domestic Violence Resources Available Online
The Brookline Police Department has compiled a list of resources for Brookline residents needing support for domestic violence related issues during the COVID-19 emergency.
Those resources are available here.
Important Information for Veterans
A variety of updates for veterans is available here.
Important Updates from the MBTA About The RIDE
The MBTA and The RIDE, in accordance with the state’s stay-at-home advisory, are cautioning passengers against any non-essential travel and remind users that The Ride is not an emergency transportation service.
The RIDE has modified its service in several key ways, including eliminating shared trips, though caregivers are still permitted to ride with the individuals they work with.
Closure of Non-Essential Businesses, Stay at Home Advisory Extended
On Tuesday, March 31, Gov. Charlie Baker extended the closure of non-essential businesses to the public until May 4. The categories for businesses and other organizations that provide essential services was updated as well and can be found here.
Gatherings of more than 10 people are also prohibited until May 4.
The stay-at-home advisory also remains in effect, and residents are urged to stay home unless they are going out for essential items.
Tax Deadline Extended
The Commonwealth and federal government have both extended their tax filing deadlines to July 15.
Tax Relief for Businesses
Gov. Baker’s office announced tax penalty relief to support businesses affected by COVID-19. The Department of Revenue announced that it will waive any late-file or late-pay penalties for returns and payment due for meals and room occupancy taxes between March 20 and May 31, 2020.
Information for Those Seeking to Volunteer
To help streamline the effort to mobilize volunteers as appropriate, those interested in volunteering are asked to fill out this form online.
Brookline COVID-19 Call Center Remains Open
For general COVID-19 questions not specific to the Town of Brookline, please call the state 211 line.
The Town of Brookline has established a call center in order for residents to ask non-medical questions specific to COVID-19 in Brookline. The call center will be staffed Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The number for the call center is 617-879-5636.
Residents can call and inquire about where to get food safely, transportation, food or medicine deliveries, childcare, volunteer work, rent and eviction and more.
Residents seeking answers to Brookline-specific medical or public health inquiries should continue to contact the Department of Brookline Public Health at 617-730-2300.
Messages left after hours will be returned as soon as possible. Residents can also email their non-medical inquiries to: COVID19Info@brooklinema.gov.
Remember, in the case of emergencies, please call 911.
Submit Medical Questions by Email
Residents may submit their medical questions related to COVID-19 via email to email@example.com.
Prevention and What to Do if You Feel Sick
For tips on how to prevent becoming sick, as well as how to prevent spreading the virus, visit brooklinecovid19.com/prevention.
Free and Reduced Lunch for Brookline Students
Free and reduced price lunches are available for qualifying families on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the period that schools are closed. For information on school lunches, including when and where to pick up lunch for your student, click here.
To order lunch online, click here.
Brookline Food Pantry Update
For more information about the Brookline Food Pantry’s response to COVID-19, and to sign up for its Brookline Thrives program, visit brooklinefoodpantry.org.
For the latest information on resources available to businesses impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, click here.
Active Town Closures/Cancellations
For updates on active closures and cancellations, visit brooklinecovid19.com/active-closures/.