At their November meeting, the Chamber Board of Directors unanimously voted to submit a letter to the Stoneham Select Board advocating for waiving of liquor license fees for 2021. The Chamber strongly supports a one-time refund of the fees associated with the the renewal of General On-Premises and Club liquor licenses for calendar year 2021. Restaurants and entertainment venues have been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic with an estimated one in five establishments already closing in Massachusetts. Governor Baker’s shelter-in-place order last spring shuttered restaurants for several months and even now they can only operate in a limited capacity with shortened hours unable to fully utilize their liquor license as it is intended. As we are seeing COVID-19 cases steadily increase and the ability to offer outdoor dining options decline, the board maintains that refunding these fees would relieve a financial burden to some extent for many small businesses in Stoneham.
In subsequent conversations, the Select Board has agreed to discuss offering restaurant owners a full or partial refund of fees at their January 5, 2021 meeting. The Chamber strongly believes that our restaurants are essential to Stoneham’s local economy and to ensuring the continued vibrancy of our business districts. The COVID-19 pandemic has threatened the continued success and longevity of these businesses and the many contributions, donations and community support these businesses provide to numerous nonprofit and civic organizations in Stoneham. To that end, the Chamber respectfully encourages the Select Board to vote in favor of a one-time renewal fee refund.