CambridgeSide closes on coronavirus concerns with other businesses; some call for more action (updated)
The CambridgeSide mall has closed through at least the week, operators New England Development said Sunday. The East Cambridge mall shut its doors at 6 p.m. Sunday in light of the spreading coronavirus.
Update on March 23, 2020: Gov. Charlie Baker has issued an order beginning at noon Tuesday and running until noon on April 7 to close all nonessential businesses to workers and the public, except for essential workers (including those at grocery stores, pharmacies, transportation workers, first responders and health care workers, for instance) and limiting gatherings to no more than 10 people. Restaurants can still offer takeout and delivery.
There are more than 80 shops and restaurants within, from an Apple Store to a Sunglass Hut, even with a third story closed to retail for conversion to office space. Though all shops are closed to foot traffic – some had already shut down, such as Old Navy and Sephora – two tenants have exceptions: The Cheesecake Factory will do curbside to-go service and delivery; and Best Buy will continue its curbside pickup service. The parking garage is available to monthly card holders.
“We feel that it is in the best interest of our shoppers, retailers and associates to temporarily close the center. This situation is complex and constantly evolving. We will let you know immediately when our center is open again,” said Issie Shait, general manager of CambridgeSide, in a Sunday press release.
The Cambridge Local First small-business organization keeps a list of Cambridge businesses that are open and operating within the guidelines set forth by federal, state and local authorities. See the list here.
“Flatten the curve”
Many residents and city councillors have been calling for a citywide shutdown of goods and services to “flatten the curve” of the spreading coronavirus pandemic, but the city has approached it in a piecemeal way. Campuses closed in early March, and municipal buildings March 16, followed by the city announcing a partial construction moratorium Wednesday, declaring a public health emergency Thursday and ordering on Friday the closing of personal care businesses such as gyms, hair salons and tattoo parlors.
Every city councillor except for Tim Toomey; five Somerville councillors; and state Reps. Mike Connolly, Denise Provost and Christine Barber have gone further, calling for Gov. Charlie Baker to issue a statewide shelter-in-place order that would keep people home except to get food, care for a relative or friend, get necessary health care or go to an essential job. Going outside for walks is permissible, according to the Wednesday letter, but there can be no congregating in groups.
The letter is signed by 32 state and city officials who believe the state is on track to reporting 10,000 cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus by the end of the month unless radical steps are taken.
A week ago, councillor Quinton Zondervan called out the mall as being among “places that remain open where people are socializing and potentially spreading the virus and putting us in danger of overwhelming our health care systems.”
Zondervan reported that he’d spoken with mall owners and heard they were “working on potentially shutting it down this week.”
But the mall had stayed open throughout, Shait said, to “provide our shoppers with access to goods and services … and has assisted retailers and eateries in safely staying open during these challenging times.”