Striving to clarify the boundaries of essential services, local officials are taking on a case-by-case basis requests from business owners to keep their doors open during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
Some, like Bass Pro Shop at Patriot Place, have been refused permission to engage in certain drive-through retail transactions featuring curbside pick-up. Others, like Foxboro Bike at 211 North St., are being allowed to pursue a repair business without direct customer contact.
According to board of health Chairman Eric Arvedon, these are but two local retailers seeking ways to operate under temporary restrictions imposed to limit spread of the COVID-19 virus.
His report came during a virtual meeting on Monday conducted with town Health Director Pauline Zajdel at town hall with all three elected board members participating remotely.
Arvedon said that management at Bass Pro had hoped to conduct drive-through ammunition sales with curbside pick-up -- a use allowed under the state essential service protocols but specifically limited to law enforcement and public safety responders.
As a result, he said, the cavernous sporting goods and outdoor retailer remains shuttered, with on-site staffing limited to two managers, a security guard and a technician tending to the live aquatic exhibits.
The Route 1 bicycle shop, Arvedon added, was allowed to remain open for spring tune-ups and other repair work, provided that bikes are dropped off and later picked up at curbside, and that credit card payments are processed online.
In making these kinds of decisions, Arvedon said officials had tried to eliminate reasons for people from other communities traveling to Foxboro.
“We didn’t want anybody coming to our town,” Arvedon said. “It’s not a time for shopping, it’s a time for staying home.”
Since Gov. Charlie Baker issued his first executive order promoting social distancing to curb spread of the COVID-19 virus, state and federal agencies have imposed a vexing patchwork of rules aimed at discouraging so-called “non-essential” activities.
The voluminous state regulations allow unrestricted operation by liquor stores, take-out only business by restaurants, sandwich and coffee shops and a hit-or-miss approach in the retail sector, allowing for a range of interpretations at the local level.
For example, Arvedon said the Cabela’s outlet in Berlin, Mass. -- which shares corporate ownership with Bass Pro -- remains open for drive-through ammunition sales.
Adding to the confusion, many directives have been advisory in nature, relying on good judgment by citizens for compliance.
In a related matter, board members voted to give Zajdel authority to make decisions in their absence. Arvedon said that extended authority during public emergencies is both implicit and explicit in state law, but that legal counsel urged board members to take a formal vote.
Arvedon also reported that 15 Foxboro residents have thus far tested positive for coronavirus. Of these, two are expected to be declared COVID-free shortly and 13 others are still pending. All 15 have been recovering at home.
“None of our citizens are in the hospital,” he said.