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North End restaurants not following Covid-19 requirements? Licensing Board to hold emergency hearing

The Boston Licensing Board has scheduled an emergency hearing for tomorrow on "the numerous complaints" both the board and ISD have gotten about lack of compliance with state requirements for social distancing, facial coverings and sanitizing and with city regulations allowing restaurants to put seats on parking spaces out front during the current state of emergency.

The board is requiring the managers of every single restaurant in the neighborhood to show their faces or screen names at a Zoomed meeting that starts at 2 p.m; failure to do so could mean having their right to expanded outdoor seating revoked or possibly, the board says, in all capital letters: "POTENTIAL ADDITIONAL DISCIPLINARY ACTION REGARDING ANY LICENSE ISSUED BY THE BOARD OR ISD."

Although the focus of the hearing is possible non-compliance with regulations aimed at keeping the crowded restaurant streets of the restaurant-heavy neighborhood from becoming coronavirus superspreaders, the board says it's also going to consider reports of people bringing their dogs with them to eat and then lighting up cigarettes or cigars.

Via Boston Restaurant Talk.

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Comments

This feels like an underhanded tactic by people who don't support the outdoor dining, but I guess we'll see.

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Voting closed 43

You could clearly see in photos of the outdoor seating arrangements.

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Voting closed 82

North End restaurants are completely disregarding the 6 foot separation of tables. I’m really glad ISD is getting involved. The situation is dangerous for the residents that have to be in a neighborhood that is now a dining destination for the state. So many people are coming in, all rules for safety have to be enforced!

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Voting closed 101

and dangerous, to boot. The restaurants in Boston's North End whose owners/workers are disregarding the 6-foot separation of tables, social distancing of people, and the requirement that all people who enter these restaurants wear masks is setting a dangerous precedent, first because it puts everybody, including restaurant workers, patrons and neighborhood residents, as well as their friends, family and neighbors at risk, and secondly, it could very well set the Bay State back, regarding progress in stemming the spread of Covid-19.

I believe that the restaurant owners/workers alike who wantonly disregard the 6-foot separation of tables should be forced to comply with the rules of face coverings and social distancing, or to go out of business, at least until they're ready to comply with the rules.

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Voting closed 59

if there isn't enough room now to keep the separation in place.

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Voting closed 24

If the customers don't care or aren't turned off by the lack of distancing, that's notable too. If restaurant patrons got mad and left when they see crowding, the restaurants would be less inclined to push the limits. But from what I've seen the people going out to eat don't think it's a problem.

Basically, if you think a restaurant is unsafe, just leave. If it becomes crowded while you're there, just leave without paying and tell them you'll return to pay your bill when they enforce the distancing. (Invite them to call the police.)

Really, this can't be entirely on businesses. If the public doesn't care, neither will business owners. MA's infection levels haven't been increasing as the state reopens and lots of people are using that as their own guide for when it's safe to go out.

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Voting closed 36

This approach treats customers and business owners as the only stakeholders. How are neighbors, for example, supposed to participate in this feedback loop? They can't; this is why market forces cannot be relied upon to enforce regulations which often exist to protect entities that aren't directly involved at the point money changes hands, and why the state specifically has told people to report concerns and violations to ISD.

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Voting closed 44

"Basically, if you think a restaurant is unsafe, just leave."

Pah, this kind of personal responsibility has no place in a place like Massachusetts. The government has to have rules for everything.

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Voting closed 8

Tried of all this stuff. Do what i have been doing - take my food and a bottle of wine and going to the park and enjoying Summer. Relax.

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Voting closed 24

What park do you go to with a bottle of wine? Sounds perfect! In Boston you'd get arrested.

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Voting closed 18

People drink in parks all the time and you didn’t notice because it’s not a big deal so maybe relax.

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Voting closed 21

A good excuse for police to arrest you if you’re not. Especially in the North End

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Voting closed 36

You misread my comment Kinopio. I'd love sit down on the grass in a park and enjoy a glass of wine on the weekend, but it's illegal. I only see people smoking weed in Boston parks. So again, name these Boston parks where your average worker can have a glass of wine or a beer after work or on the weekends without someone calling the cops? I'm waiting.

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Voting closed 8

That’s what Dunkin Donuts cups are for. I am in my sixties I fall under the radar.

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Voting closed 7

Haven't a few towns around here relaxed those rules? Believe Needham is among them

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There are many people who live directly across, above, and next to these restaurants and don't want their densely populated neighborhood to become a hotspot.

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Voting closed 28

Lifelong resident here, we dont care.

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Voting closed 24

Not every North Ender is a caricature, ActualPerson.

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Voting closed 7

Let's see what the evidence actually says, but watching certain North End restaurant owners on TV interviews during the full shut down I sensed big "let us do whatever we want" vibes. They were all pushing for full, unrestricted opening immediately at a time when MA still had one of the highest new infection rates in the country.

It is not easy running a restaurant; it's less easy now. The biggest motivation for these restaurants is to not get shut down. I promise that these new COVID guidelines and regulations will not be followed without oversight and enforcement.

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"My family has been doing this for 47 years and [huge leap of internal logic] I don't know why some pencil pusher with a public health degrees should be able to tell ME how to run MY restaurant."

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Voting closed 61

Maybe expand them around corners and close off side streets to make more room, to ease the crowding?

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Voting closed 21

Seems dumb to me.

I know fire trucks need to get places but keeping Hanover Street in two directions is absurd. One lane with a cop on each end to let the fire truck through, all others, take other streets.

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Voting closed 71

Cutting the BPD overtime budget, except we need 48 hours of OT per day to keep Hanover Street closed to all but emergency vehicles.

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Voting closed 14

Why then does it have to be a cop making overtime to direct traffic? Any idiot could do that job just as well, for less. Probably better in fact, because a regular old idiot would be doing it to put bread on the table and not just to fill their gravy boat. Hell, you could probably even tell them not to look at their phone while they direct traffic.

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Voting closed 35

Well, John said it needed to be a cop at each end and there's no way you are going to be dedicating two cops on their regular shifts 24/7 to that post indefinitely.

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Voting closed 8

The problem is not what John said or your math, it's the fact that we pay cops overtime to mind traffic instead of making it a normal job for regular people. This is why we can't have nice things.

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Voting closed 27

And many times, in a city as big and busy as Boston, those cops didn't chose to take the overtime. Their boss told them at the end of their shift, or called them at home and said "GUESS WHAT, you get extra work!"

Overtime is great in any job, as long as you actually want to be putting in that time. Once it's forced on you, the extra cash is not that appealing.

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Voting closed 11

So, you agree with me that somebody else besides cops needs to be directing traffic

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Because from every cop I know, I've heard detail work is the easiest thing ever to make OT. They're mostly sitting in their cruiser, or occasionally out on the street. This is why there are BPD officers who took home another salary in OT last (and probably every) fiscal year.

Source:
https://twitter.com/lauren_marietta/status/1269015797436907521

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Voting closed 9

Overtime is forced, details are voluntary.

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Voting closed 8

Detail work isn't OT. It's paid by the contractor or builder or utility company or whomever, not a part of the overtime budget.

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Voting closed 8

is that realistically possible?

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Voting closed 9

Of course, it is possible. Hanover Street won't literally crumble into the ground if cars only travel in one direction. Sure, drivers will be inconvenienced, but like... remember the Big Dig?

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Voting closed 21

But also have to allow construction/contractors working on all those condos and restaurants and the utility work in the street, and the vans that take seniors and the disabled to and from the health center on Hanover, and then of course, each and every restaurant gets a dairy delivery, meat, dry goods, fruits and veg, beer and liquor, refrigeration service, beer taps, etc. it adds up. If you restricted deliveries to before noon, say, that could help. Designate some curb space along each block for contractors and others with permits for that particular day. The only real traffic you could keep out are tourists (not many right now), residents (very low car ownership) and, wait for it...RESTAURANT PATRONS. If they could be taught to park in the relatively empty garages nearby, enticed with validated discounts perhaps, walk to Hanover, sit at a table in the now vacant street parking. voila! Or rather, ecco!

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Voting closed 26

In Rome they only allowed ox carts in the city, for deliveries, at night.

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Voting closed 28

That's an interesting idea, but I don't think it will really help, as not much traffic is made up of ox carts anymore.

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Wasn't always home to a large grouping of Italians. or 'Little Italy'.

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- Restaurant tables allowed on the existing sidewalk and in the parking spaces. Tables that are on the sidewalk must be moved out of the way after restaurant closing to allow pedestrian access during deliveries (tables in the parking spaces may remain)
- Pedestrian walkway in the middle of the street where the travel lanes are located. ADA compliance may be OK as long as there are curb cuts on either end? Pedestrians can step aside for emergency vehicles, and for vans for the elderly/disabled.
- Deliveries in the middle of the street before noon (pedestrians use the cleared sidewalks).
- Contractors are given designated spaces away from the closed portion of the streets, or possibly designated spaces

One wrinkle is emergency vehicle access during deliveries, though I'm not sure how that works currently.

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Voting closed 9

Many of the restaurants have squeezed more tables outside than they ever had in their restaurants. This includes around multiple corners.

Restaurants have been granted:
- street space,
- space in a public park (Cutillo Park)
- North Square - the nations OLDEST public square. (The city just spent millions rehabbing this public space for the public use, now it is largely unavailable to the public after 12 noon.)
- outdoor dining until 10:30/11:30 weekdays/ weekends (yes the listed time is 10/11 but people can be in seats til the later time) with no food requrement, ie these are outdoor bars in residential neighborhoods at those times.

The entire reason these places were granted this widescale privatization of public space with ZERO community input was to mitigate the pandemic restrictions, not see it as a payday/space grab.

Instead of embracing the public health rules that allowed this expansion, restaurants have:
- staff serving food refusing to wear masks (they are nearby/accessible, but not worn)
- tables of people sitting shoulder to shoulder, definitely no plexiglas.
- permitted unmasked groups to crowd sidewalks while waiting for tables
- narrowed the already too-small sidewalks by placing monstrous cantilevered umbrellas on the sidewalk. (They don't want give up any of their allocated space, but are happy to take it from pedestrians - at least 4 restaurants have done this).

Strega has 4 couches in the street for god's sake. Of course the restaurants want this to be repeated next year. It is completely absurd.

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Voting closed 44

Yes, this makes the sidewalks too small, but if you remove car traffic from the street, the pedestrians can walk there instead.

I'm OK with the restaurants trying to make up for lost time. If this experiment is successful in the North End, it can be replicated in other neighborhoods throughout the city and suburbs. We're trying a version of it in Davis Square now, and I've also seen it in Winchester Center.

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Voting closed 30

It's absolutely possible! Waltham closed Moody Street to allow outdoor dining and retail. The street usually has 15,000+ vehicles travel down it daily, which I would wager is far more than Hanover.

Waltham preserved a 15' fire lane down the center of the street with removable cones and steel barricades.

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Voting closed 40

yeah, I want my taxes to help fund a private business.

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Voting closed 9

I have some bad news for you then...

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Voting closed 20

I just want to point out if you go to Chinatown and go to North End, you will see a noticeable difference in Mask usage. Both in amount in what proportion you see that are wearing and how well everyone is properly wearing it.

Not trying to hate or be a Karen here. Obviously you can't wear and eat at the same time. And fortunately the data does say outside matters a lot in preventing spread, so the less-than-ideal execution is still not spreading much or at least too few to detect and thus fuel actual growth.

Just saying there's room for improvement. The better everyone follow and execute the recommended practices, the faster we bring these cases down. I think we all want that.

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Voting closed 26

Some of the others are boxed in with space restrictions but appear to be trying their best. Sometimes Alice Kravitz can't help herself.

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Voting closed 8

Don't you mean Gladys aka Happy Bottom...

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Voting closed 7

Happy that the City's Inspectional Services and the Licensing Board may take some action.

Can not Governor Baker use some of his powers at the State House? Mandatory "advisories" are nice and all that, but without enforcement there will be more flagrant violations.

No need to quote the latest news on increasing COVID19 cases among younger people, many of whom are asymptomatic. That reality is being ignored in too many corners of Boston.

The reckless will kill more of us.

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Voting closed 22

Just expand the seating area enough so that the restaurants can meet demand and still maintain proper distance between tables.

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Voting closed 11

only that doesn't actually reduce traffic.

same principle.

giving them more space won't meet some inelastic finite "demand".

people need to learn limits exist for a reason and they (customers and restaurants both) are not special.

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Voting closed 8

"I can't imagine why people wouldn't want to get out in the streets and make a point about it." -- Gov. Charlie Baker on May 29, 2020, two days before rioters and looters inflicted damage on Boston so substantial, it hasn't yet been tabulated as of June 23

Who's kidding who on "the need" for social distancing? Especially after the widespread rioting of May 31 led to no uptick of significance? While every life matters, we know that the mortality rate for Covid is essentially non-existent for healthy people under 60. Why are all age groups still being restricted while looters peaceful protesters are encouarged? Shocking TV news video of the city being destroyed showed no separation of the suspects on the streets or inside the burglarized stores as they were looted. The state is facing an unimaginable budget deficit that they willingly admit is $6B but is likely triple that. There will be little state aid to cities and towns with lottery sales non-existent for 3-4 months at the closed stores, bars and restaurants. It will take 20+ years for Boston to return to 2019 economic and quality of life standards (if ever) and Marty's City Hall is worried about social distancing? Ha!

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Voting closed 24

You can make the same incoherent and incorrect points in far fewer words and we’d all get the same out of it.

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Voting closed 61

Way to go, Fish! You got:

  • A backhanded ignorant sneer casting doubt on the need for social distancing
  • Calling peaceful protests "riots"
  • An "all lives matter" plug
  • A lie about covid mortality rates and affected populations
  • A dismissal of the lives of those who (according to your lie) are most at risk
  • A fig-leaf strikethrough smear of peaceful protesters as "looters"
  • Begging the claim with a hyperbolic statement of "the city being destroyed"
  • Another specious claim that social distancing doesn't matter
  • An absurd claim that lottery sales have been "non-existent" for three months
  • A completely unsupported assertion about Boston's economic future

...and all in one post.

You're someone with a room temperature IQ who thinks everyone else is just a little bit stupider than he is. I don't know how to break it to you, Fish, but most people are a lot smarter and a lot more honest and ethical than you are. You have all the charm of a shoe scraping. Go fester elsewhere.

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Voting closed 34

Impressive that Boston's downtown restaurants are overflowing with patrons coming from all over the region after the city was "destroyed" by "riots". Sounds like a bleak economic future to me!

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Voting closed 9

There, I said it.

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Voting closed 22

The city had 3 months to put out guidelines, require plans be submitted, review them and approve them.

They wasted that time.

Instead everyone acted like they had 24 hours to "figure it out" and are shocked that it didnt go smoothly

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Voting closed 34