Cape Cod Reopening Task Force Stresses Importance of Uniform Message

HYANNIS – Members of the Cape Cod Reopening Task Force believe it’s important to have one uniform message to issue to businesses, residents, and visitors of Cape Cod and the Islands.

The group, which includes legislators and representatives from local chambers and organizations, is working in lockstep with the state and expressing the need for the state to have consideration for the Cape’s seasonality.

“We need to have consideration for our seasonality, some businesses will need the full 15 weeks to make it through 52 weeks,” said Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce CEO, Wendy Northcross.

“Timing here is really critical but we know that we have to do it through the lens of safety because if we don’t our customers won’t feel comfortable and as we all know at the end of the day the customer will decide if they’re going to come to the region or not.” 

Northcross said added that the Chamber has been reaching out to businesses on Cape Cod to get a gauge on what impacts the virus related closures have had on them.  

“We have cast a wide net and have included as many people as possible. We have had an overwhelming response from the community to participate and to help,” said Northcross.  

“This week alone we conducted over 14 industry sector groups just to hear from them, what the impacts have been to their business or their organization, what they’re thinking in terms of safety protocols, and what might they might need to re-open. We are assembling that information and trying to create some uniform information both bound to the business community and up to the re-opening advisory board.”    

Director of the Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment Sean O’Brien expressed how important it’s going to be in the summer to monitor the number of cases and making sure that all precautions are being taken.

“This is an area where our local boards of health are going to have such an important role of just making sure that we keep monitoring the numbers that are coming in,” said O’Brien.

Cape and Islands State Senator Julian Cyr said that state officials are looking at a number of ideas and options to have restaurants and businesses stay open through the pandemic.

“There’s a lot of creative and innovative ideas in this space,” Senator Cyr said.

“As far as the actual specifics of how we are going to operationalize this, there certainly are a number of health and safety precautions that need to be taken.”    

O’Brien added that the county has 10 seasonal employees that work every year with the towns to inspect restaurants and businesses.

He expects that program, which has been ongoing for over 50 years, will be more important than ever this season.

“One of the ways that we are going to be able to help the towns out is we have seasonal employees come in every year to assist with restaurant inspections,” O’Brien said.

“They’re going to be here to help the towns through this as well and assist them with the inspection of facilities.”  

The additional need for inspection services will also be needed for the Cape and Islands, hotels, motels, resorts, and bed and breakfasts.

“I’ve elevated the potential need for some additional resources to flow to local health or county health in this case to help deal with this activity,” said Senator Cyr.  

“There is going to be an additional need for inspection services.”

The task force has also been working with local boards of health to safely re-open area beaches.

“We are bringing on board some folks from beach departments to work on some policies and procedures,” continued O’Brien.  

“We are looking at this at a regional level and I think everybody would like a regional solution to it. We have done some drafting that is in the process of being reviewed and it is something that is being looked at and considered.”

Members of the re-opening task force include Representatives Sarah Peake, Will Crocker, Dylan Fernandes, Randy Hunt, David Vieira, Tim Whelan, Barnstable Town Manager Mark Ells, Bourne Town Manager Anthony Schiavi, Brewster Town Administrator Peter Lombardi, Chatham Select Board Chair Shareen Davis, Sandwich Selectmen Chair David Sampson, Barnstable County Administrator Jack Yunits, Cape Cod Commission Executive Director Kristy Senatori, Cape Cod National Seashore Superintedent Brian Carlstrom, Hyanni Fire Chief Peter Burke, Mike Lauf, CEO, Cape Cod Healthcare, Linda Markham, President, Cape Air, Kevin Howard, Director of Marketing and Community Engagement, Cape Cod 5, Eugene Curry, Cape Cod Blue Economy Foundation, Ryan Castle, CEO, Cape Cod & Islands Association of Realtors, Cindy Horgan, Executive Director, Cape Cod Children’s Place, Nancy Gardella, Executive Director, Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce, Kristie Ferrantella, Nantucket Select Board Member, Jerry Fishbein, Vice President, 1199 SEIU.

As the traditional summer season approaches, the task force will work to ensure that the most up-to-date information is made available, particularly for seasonal residents who are returning to the region and ultimately to visitors for travel planning purposes.

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