Rep. Vargas Leads Effort to Reduce Restaurant, Bar Insurance Costs, Keep Coverage During Shutdown

Rep. Andy X. Vargas. (Jay Saulnier file photograph for WHAV News.)

Local restaurants and bars, forced to close as a precaution to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease, may be getting a break on insurance costs and obligations if Rep. Andy X. Vargas and other legislators have their way.

While a number of local public and private steps have been taken to help the hospitality businesses, Vargas said the request is fair since the businesses are not seating patrons. The letter asks state Insurance Commissioner Gary Anderson to stop insurers from requiring liquor liability insurance payments from businesses impacted by Gov. Charlie Baker’s prohibition of on-premises eating and drinking. It also asks for guidelines to prevent insurers from using “act of God” provisions to prevent paying claims for business interruption. Vargas said the issue came to light during videoconferences with business owners this week.

“Through conversations with colleagues across the state, we learned that this was an urgent ask from many small businesses across the Commonwealth. If they’re not serving liquor on premises, then paying insurance for onsite consumption that is now prohibited seems unfair and detrimental. And, businesses that have interruption insurance should be able to rely on it for moments precisely like this,” said Vargas.

The letter was also backed by 50 senators and representatives including Linda Dean Campbell of Methuen, Christina A. Minicucci of North Andover and Marcos A. Devers Frank A. Moran of Lawrence

In other COVID-19-related news:

The Groveland Police Department is temporarily suspending non-emergency walk-in services in response to COVID-19. All walk-in services, such as fingerprinting, records requests, non-violent past offenses, medication drop-off, are suspended until further notice. Non-emergency matters may be reported by calling the department’s business line at 978-521-1212.

Community Action of Haverhill says it has cancelled all previously scheduled appointments, classes and meetings and closed its 3 Washington Square offices to the public until further notice. However, the agency says, it is accepting document drop-offs for all programs on the first floor, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

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