BROOKLINE — The Brookline Select Board, Town Administrator Mel Kleckner and Director of Health and Human Services Dr. Swannie Jett wish to provide the community with several important updates about the town’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 emergency.
There are now 53 positive cases of COVID-19 among residents in Brookline, according to the Department of Brookline Public Health, as well as four cases among non-resident employees of the town.
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.
Closure of Non-Essential Businesses, Stay at Home Extended
On Tuesday, March 31, Gov. Charlie Baker extended the closure of non-essential businesses to the public until May 4. This means that businesses can have employees work remotely if possible, but that workers, customers or the public are not allowed to visit brick-and-mortar locations. 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 closure are being done out of an abundance of caution in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and promote social distancing — keeping at least six feet between individuals. Essential businesses that remain open during time should promote this practice as well.
The Stay at Home Advisory Gov. Baker announced last week remains in effect as well. This advisory encourages residents to stay home unless absolutely necessary, like to pick up groceries or medications. Residents can exercise outdoors, but are encouraged to practice social distancing when doing so. More information about the advisory can be found here.
Town Election Postponed
Out of an abundance of caution for the safety of the community, the Select Board voted to postpone the Annual Town Election to Tuesday, June 9. Residents are encouraged to vote using an absentee ballot to limit the number of people visiting the polling center on that day. Information about the election and absentee voting can be found here.
Additional Updates and Information, In Case You Missed Them
Reminder for Restaurants
The Town of Brookline is monitoring a proposal by Gov. Baker’s administration that would allow restaurants to offer alcohol for takeout or delivery, along with food. However, restaurant owners should remember that alcohol deliveries of this sort are currently prohibited both in Massachusetts and in Brookline.
For the latest information regarding food service in Brookline, visit brooklinecovid19.com/restaurant-restrictions/.
Don’t Flush Sanitizing Wipes
As residents are taking steps at home to keep surfaces disinfected, they’re reminded to avoid flushing any items down the toilet other than toilet paper, including disinfecting wipes.
Many “flushable” wipes are indeed not flushable and can do damage to sewer infrastructure, so residents are strongly encouraged to discard any disinfecting wipes and other materials in the trash.
Tax Deadline Extended
The Commonwealth and federal government have both extended their tax filing deadlines to July 15.
Learning Resources for Students and Families
The Public Schools of Brookline have launched a new website to help students and parents cope with the interruption to students’ learning and routines. These resources are in addition to the work that teachers and schools are providing directly to their students.
The new website includes resources for learning, for families, and from the PSB school libraries.
Additionally, Comcast will be providing two months of free internet service to qualifying families through its Internet Essential program. Click here to learn more and apply.
Brookline Interactive Group Seeking Community Feedback
Brookline Interactive Group (BIG) has developed a community survey in order to better serve Brookline residents by providing timely access to important information. BIG will share the results of the survey with government leaders, which will help guide communication efforts as the COVID-19 emergency continues.
To fill out the survey, click here.
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.
The Town of Brookline’s voluntary construction suspension remains in effect. In addition, the Commonwealth has issued guidance for construction workers and projects, which is accessible here.
School Closure Extended
The Public Schools of Brookline are closed, and Governor Baker announced that the statewide mandate for schools to remain closed has been extended through the end of April.
Shopping Bag Update
Plastic bag bans statewide have been suspended, including in Brookline. Additionally, Governor Charlie Baker has banned the use of reusable personal shopping bags until further notice.
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. The call center will continue to be fully staffed through at least the end of next week.
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: [email protected].
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 protected].
Smoke Alarm Inspections Suspended
Governor Baker’s office issued an order making a change to the inspection statutes that require a smoke and carbon dioxide alarm inspection prior to a residential real estate transaction.
Emergency Parking Rules in Place
For details about emergency parking rules currently in effect, visit brooklinecovid19.com/emergency-parking-rules/.
Prevention and What to Do if You Feel Sick
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Department of Brookline Public Health have stated that seniors and those with chronic health conditions are the most at-risk for serious illness caused by the coronavirus; they urge that those in this vulnerable population take appropriate precautions to mitigate their risk of becoming sick. As has been widely suggested, any person who believes they may be experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should contact their primary care physician immediately.
Federal, state and local health leaders all encourage residents to actively take part in social distancing — avoiding close physical contact with others, especially gatherings of 10 people or more, and working from home — in order to slow the spread of the virus.
Reported symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath and respiratory illness, including pneumonia in severe cases.
If anyone displays symptoms of COVID-19, including a fever, cough or shortness of breath, they should stay home and they are advised to contact their primary care physician. According to the CDC, symptoms of the virus appear within 2-14 days of exposure.
If you feel sick, the CDC recommends:
- Calling your primary care physician before visiting them in person
- Staying home and limiting your contact with others
- Wearing a facemask if you are sick. Masks are not recommended for widespread use by healthy people.
Brookline Public Health recommends that residents continue with good hygiene practices including:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds including under your fingernails. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol content) can be used when soap and water are not available.
- Keep your hands away from your face.
- Cover your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing with a tissue and discard it immediately. Cough into the sleeve over your elbow instead of your hand. Wash your hands often when coughing and sneezing.
- Stay away from people who are sick and stay home when you are sick.
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/.