BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Boston's restaurants will soon be able to boost their income by selling select grocery items directly to customers, according to Mayor Marty Walsh.
"Today we're taking another step to help small businesses during the public health emergency," said Mayor Walsh at a press conference on Friday afternoon. "We're now allowing restaurants to sell grocery items including produce, paper products, and more."
Mayor Walsh said requests for the city's eateries to start selling select products like "meat and some vegetables" came from both restaurants and customers.
He also said Boston's guidance for restaurants selling groceries is based on the city of Somerville's already-enacted policy, which mandates restaurants submit a health and safety operations plan in order to get started.
"If restaurants want to start selling groceries, they must follow strict safety guidelines," said Walsh. "They will also need to follow clear guidelines for packaging and labeling food. Restaurants will still be required to limit occupancy to ten people at any given time, they will have to maintain physical distancing with at least six feet between all staff and customers."
When asked how long it might be until Boston residents will be able to walk into a restaurant and buy certain groceries, Walsh said it will be a matter of days.
"As soon as we get the first application, the licensing board is going to turn that around fairly quickly," said Walsh. "I'm expecting they're going to turn it around probably within the matter of a day. And then the inspectional services will have to check to make sure everything's okay, but it's going to be quick."
Walsh also cautioned shoppers to be aware of their surroundings when inside any store, and to not socialize inside the aisles.
"Get your shopping done quickly and leave," Walsh said. "And I want you to be respectful and gracious to the grocery store workers, because they are our frontline workers."
Mayor Walsh said the allowance for restaurants to sell some groceries is the latest change implemented by the city to help restaurants and bars stay in business during the coronavirus pandemic.
Boston has taken several steps to help restaurants maintain customers since it ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses last month, including allowing all bars and restaurants to offer take-out and delivery food, and allowing some to offer beer and wine on their take-out menus. The city also created a directory of businesses that are still open, and it started allowing a five-minute pickup zone in front of all restaurants.
(Photo: Getty Images)