Senate Approves Keeping Certain COVID-19 Policies, but Rejects DiZoglio Restaurant Relief

State Sen. Diana DiZoglio, left, and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, walk up Essex Street in downtown Haverhill with Rep. Andy X. Vargas just behind them. (WHAV News photograph.)

The state Senate yesterday approved a package of pandemic policy extensions, but did not include certain continuing benefits for restaurants.

Sen. Diana DiZoglio thanked her colleagues for supporting a continuation of cocktails to-go through next April, but the senator was unsuccessful in convincing them to approve continuing for the long term “Expanded Take-Out/Delivery Options” and “Third-Party Delivery Cost Containment for Restaurants.”

“I am calling on us as a body to recognize how long it is going to take these mom-and-pop restaurants that actually made it through the pandemic—we know many did not—to recognize how long it is going to take for them to actually enter a place of full recovery. They are not going to be fully recovered, magically, on June 15 or in April of next year,” DiZoglio told her fellow senators.

Either way, the Senate bill must get through the House and signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker by Tuesday. Remote public meetings, mail-in voting and takeout cocktails remain in place for a time when the state of emergency ends on June 15. Senators rejected amendments that would have allowed open town meetings to convene remotely and would keep the cap on fees that third-party delivery services charge restaurants in place beyond next week.

They approved amendments to extend both flexibilities for physician assistants and permission for reverse-mortgage counseling to be conducted by video instead of in-person. The Senate also added in language, offered by Sen. Patricia Jehlen of Somerville, which she said would require the Department of Unemployment Assistance to continue providing benefits to people who are unable to obtain dependent care.

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