Cape Cod Reopening Task Force Launches New Website

CCB MEDIA PHOTO
The sign at the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce welcomes visitors.

HYANNIS – The Cape Cod Reopening Task Force has launched a new website to help guide businesses in the reopening process.

Reopeningcapecod.org provides situational reports on activities, goals and objectives, guidance for business owners and employees, guidance for residents and visitor, and information for municipal stakeholders in regards to reopening the area.

The website also allows the public to leave comments.

Currently the task force has received over 400 comments from the public.

In addition, the website provides a tool kit for municipalities and town managers that has been developed by the Cape Cod Commission.

“The Cape Cod Commission developed a uniform series of guidance to town officials,” said Cape and Islands State Senator and task force member, Julian Cyr.

“It contains information around how they can support businesses, primarily small businesses impacted by COVID-19.”

Included in the tool kit is best practices for amending bylaws, which gives local authorities a road map around how to address temporary regulations that may be needed to allow businesses to open up.

“There are also proposals that allow for more flexibility around signage, how to implement temporary pick-up zones, temporary tents and covered areas for outdoor uses, guidance around how to reduce allowable parking,” said Cyr.

“These draft bylaws are meant to be a framework to help town mangers and their staff get the policy outcomes they need to safely reopen their communities.”

The Cape Cod Commission also released a data dashboard that provides demographic and economic data for Cape Cod towns, nonprofit organizations, and businesses who are navigating the impacts of COVID-19.

“There are public health indicators that are included,” said Cyr.  

“We are looking at health insurance coverage by town and the percentage of at risk population by town and there are several other economic points that are included in here.”   

Cyr added that the dashboard is another resource for Cape Cod, and will help residents get a handle on what is happening.

The commission, in conjunction with The Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, has provided a business impact survey which they are using to track the current conditions of business in the area.

The chamber has also requested the bridge traffic counts for the canal bridges during Memorial Day Weekend.

“We do track that data on a monthly basis but we are curious to see year over year any traffic volume changes, which we assume is greatly reduced,” said task force member and Chamber CEO Wendy Northcross.

The task force has also been monitoring the unemployment rate of the region and what affect it could have on the seasonal workforce.

“We have one of the highest unemployment rates in the state, the Cape and the Berkshires,” said Northcross.  

“We do believe that there will be a bit of a shuffle in the normal seasonal workforce and there will be less of demand for the numbers of people in the seasonal workforce.”

Northcross also expects the pandemic to impact J-1 college students who come to the Cape on cultural exchanges.

“We are very concerned, Barnstable County and the Islands have the highest unemployment rate in the Commonwealth,” said Senator Cyr.  

“Provincetown currently right now has the highest rate.”

The senator noted that a big concern has been the lack of clarity around federal unemployment benefits.

“Also the very real prospect that if you’re someone who makes your living in our seasonal economy, once we get to Labor Day or Columbus Day or the end of the season you have a solid seven to eight months before you have an opportunity to make a living,” said Cyr.

“This is certainly something we are very concerned about.”

Phase two of the states reopening plan can began on June 8 at the earliest.

In phase two outdoor dining and accommodations will be allowed to reopen with safety restrictions in place.

The task force is keeping an eye on the date as it approaches and will help business owners and residents transition to the second phase of the plan.         

About Luke Leitner

Luke Leitner grew up in Watertown Massachusetts and now lives in West Yarmouth on the Cape. He has been a part of the news team in the CapeCod.com News Center since the spring of 2019. He studied business communications at Western New England University.



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