Mass. Phase 4 Businesses Focused on Survival While They Wait for Vaccine

"We need to get to the other side, we need to get to the point where a vaccine can help this industry," Big Night Entertainment co-owner Randy Greenstein said. "In the meantime, this industry is going under."

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Another vaccine candidate is making its way to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approval, giving some hope to local businesses -- but will it be in time?

With Cambridge-based Moderna asking the FDA for emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine -- touting it as nearly 95% effective -- Phase 4 businesses in Massachusetts say they're encouraged but their main focus is survival in the interim.

Under Gov. Charlie Baker's economic reopening plan, Phase 4 businesses cannot reopen until there is a treatment or vaccine for COVID-19. According to the state's guidelines, this includes bars, nightclubs and large entertainment venues -- all of which were forced to shut down in the spring when the pandemic began.

Nearly nine months later, several Phase 4 business owners told NBC10 Boston that while the vaccine news is promising, they remain worried about how they're going to survive for the next few months until a vaccine is available.

"Phase 4 is the end and that’s kind of a problem because we don’t when that is," Big Night Entertainment co-owner Randy Greenstein said.

Big Night Entertainment -- which owns 17 venues across New England, including several nightclubs and concert venues in Boston’s Seaport district -- has been waiting since March to find out when they can reopen.

“We have 1,000 employees on furlough that don’t know when they’re coming back to work,” Greenstein said. 

While Greenstein says he's cautiously optimistic, he's not celebrating just yet.

"I'm thrilled there's a vaccine if everyone gets it, if it means reopening," he said. "I just don’t want to get too excited because in the meantime everyone may go out of businesses."

As they wait for the greenlight to reopen, Greenstein and Big Night Entertainment have launched a campaign called “Where’s the Plan?” that pushes for the government to provide relief for the hospitality industry.

With curfews and cold weather, Greenstein said it is only getting worse.

“We need to get to the other side. We need to get to the point where a vaccine can help this industry because in the meantime, this industry is going under,” Greenstein said. 

The Lyons Group -- which owns several bars and lounges where live music would bring in customers -- is also eagerly awaiting a vaccine. In the meantime, they have started streaming live music at Lucky’s Lounge to give guests a concert-like experience.

“Because we have to. You have to find a way to get creative and get people in the door,” Ryan Jones, the vice president of operations for The Lyons Group said. “We have to figure out a way to navigate the next three or four months, however long it takes to get a vaccine.”

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