Bevilacqua: Border Communities at a Great Disadvantage with Mass. Business Reopening Plan

Merrimack Valley Chamber President Joseph J. Bevilacqua, left, with Gov. Charlie Baker and developer Salvatore N. Lupoli in 2017. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Merrimack Valley Chamber’s Joseph Bevilacqua says the Commonwealth’s business reopening plan places border communities like Haverhill and Methuen at a disadvantage.

Specifically, Bevilacqua says, he recommended Massachusetts “keep pace” with what New Hampshire is doing.

“New Hampshire is now opening their restaurants—they’re allowed to eat outdoors. The retail stores are starting to open in New Hampshire and, unfortunately, the Merrimack Valley communities that border New Hampshire, that reside in Massachusetts, aren’t able to open,” he says.

Bevilacqua, who is also a Haverhill city councilor, said he made his concerns known to the Reopening Advisory Board, co-chaired by Lt. Governor Karyn Polito and Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. He outlined for WHAV three major business owner concerns.

“First, they’re fighting to get their employees bank and, obviously, if you are looking to return to work, you can go to New Hampshire and get work in a New Hampshire restaurant. You can’t work in a Massachusetts restaurant right now. Secondly, they’re going to open at reduced capacity. Thirdly, they don’t know exactly when and how they can open so they can’t go ahead and order supplies and equipment and food and so on,” Bevilacqua notes.

He acknowledges that customers and employees alike must feel safe, but says there is enough guidance from the state and local boards of health to protect everyone. Absent a course correction in Massachusetts, Bevilacqua says, he fears some Haverhill restaurants will never reopen their doors.

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