PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Mayor Linda Tyer has announced a new relief aid program for Pittsfield restaurants in the wake of the city suspending indoor dining.
The Restaurant Rapid Response Grant program will offer up to $5,000 to eligible restaurants to help with rent, mortgage, utilities, payroll, supplies, and inventory.
Tyer made the announcement during her COVID-19 update Friday on Pittsfield Community Television telling the community that a second surge of the novel coronavirus had hit the city.
"I would love more than to stand before you and share good news but I just can't do that this week," she said. "The number of new COVID-19 cases in our city is beyond alarming, it's frightening.
"We are in a serious crisis."
In the past week, the city had received a daily report of more than 100 positive COVID-19 cases, an accumulation of test results over several days. On Friday, eight new cases were reported.
"What were seeing was completely avoidable," Tyer said. "These cases have been directly attributed to large get-togethers in restaurants and large indoor parties in private homes attended by individuals from multiple households."
These get-togethers caused an explosion of cases in the city, the mayor said. In one instance, a single COVID-19 case generated at least 20 other positives.
The state of Massachusetts encourages using three reporting periods to determine when communities should step back, but Pittsfield is not waiting and stepped back immediately.
"Decisive, aggression action is what is needed right not to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our city," Tyer said.
The city's COVID-19 Task force identified several actions that are effective immediately, one of which included a suspension of indoor dining until further notice.
Tyer said many cases have been linked to indoor dining and large gatherings, so it is necessary to take a pause on these actions.
Though indoor dining is suspended, local eateries are allowed to provide takeout, delivery, and to serve outdoors, which has proved to be very successful during winter spring and summer months, Tyer said.
While these shutdowns are necessary, Tyer said she recognizes the tremendous economic impact it will have on Pittsfield restaurants, and thus the emergency grants.
This grant program is in addition to Pittsfield's COVID-19 Economic Relief and Recovery Small Business Grant program, which has already aided 63 businesses, including 17 restaurants.
Tyer noted that there are still funds available for this program, and the city is accepting more applications. More information on this program can be provided by the city's Office of Community Development at cityofpittsfield.org.
Additionally, a second Board of Health order will be issued to step back the city of Pittsfield to step 1 of phase 3 of the reopening process.
This means that until further notice, the following types of businesses must reduce indoor capacity to 40 percent; outdoor gatherings at event venues and in public settings are limited to 50 people; and
outdoor theater performance venues may operate at 25 percent capacity with no more than 50 people.
Indoor performances are suspended for the time being.
For more sector specific guidelines visit www.mass.gov/reopening
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Homelessness Advisory Panel Reprimanded For Internal Disrespect
By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
Chairwoman Kim Borden warns advisory committee members to be on their best behavior after 'inappropriate' communications.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- The Homelessness Advisory Committee reportedly experienced recent issues with "highly inappropriate behavior and communication, threats and the spreading of misinformation" and Chairwoman Kim Borden is not having it.
At the third meeting as a newly established committee on Wednesday, Borden shared her thoughts on the current climate of the committee.
"In the last month, I've been subjected to highly inappropriate behavior and communication, which has include bullying threats and the spreading of misinformation," Borden said. "At this time, I will not identify the specific depict individuals as I do not believe in public shaming. This is not what I signed up for and more importantly, I do not believe that other committee members should be subjected to this extraordinarily destructive dynamic."
This type of communication or behavior may result in a request that appropriate steps be taken to remove the person or persons creating a hostile and/or unproductive environment, she said.
At this time, no committee members are being removed. If any are removed, they will be replaced with individuals with an "appropriate level of civility and a desire to work together as a team and respect others."
Chairman Nicholas Caccamo said the petition's language was not sorted out well enough, so the committee voted on it as a concept that will be sent back to the City Council with a negative recommendation.
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The topic sparking controversy was the reclassification of Human Resource Director Michael Taylor's position and a salary increase of roughly $7,500. It passed 4-1 with Maffuccio voting in opposition.
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Twenty percent of Berkshire County's population has received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination as of Thursday and around 8 percent have received the second dose. There were more than 3,000 Berkshire County residents vaccinated on Saturday.
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