Arlington to Let Struggling Restaurants, Businesses Sell Groceries During Outbreak

The permits for Arlington businesses have to be displayed in the window and expire when the state lifts the stay-at-home order

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Officials in Arlington, Massachusetts, are hoping to provide a new revenue stream for struggling restaurants and businesses by offering them a temporary permit to sell essential items during the coronavirus pandemic.

Along Massachusetts Avenue, homemade signs hang in windows reading: Closed and credit cards only. There's even a table to pick up orders.

Restaurant owner Athena Z. Peters is now trying to do something different to keep her business running by selling extra items.

"The biggest things are the things folks are having a hard time getting at stores. Flour disappears quickly off of shelves, eggs and milk," she said.

Arlington Public Health Director Natasha Waden stepped in, stopping the sale of those grocery items at stores like Peter's.

"Our real priority here is to protect the public and just make sure things are being done safely," Waden said.

But after consideration, Waden said, she realized Peters was on to something.

"We were kind of taking a look at the grocery venues we have here in town. We really only have three and it seems the community really was interested in being able to purchase groceries at a local food establishment," Waden said.

Now the town is offering a permit for restaurants to not only sell typical takeout but also groceries too. A permit fee of $150 will be waived for restaurants; the business has to be in good standing with the town to get one.

The permits have to be displayed in the window of the business and they expire when the state lifts the stay-at-home order and allows restaurants to operate as normal.

Peters plans to apply for one and says it will help keep her business alive.

"For us, it's just a matter of being able to just keep going until hopefully, things can improve for the world," Peters said.

Restaurant owners can download the application on the Arlington Health Department's website.

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