UPDATED, April 16: The Town of Arlington plans to fast-track its process for retail grocery permits to allow restaurants, suffering under the combined weights of Covid-19 social distancing and minimum orders from suppliers, the right to sell food inventory, including meat, eggs, milk and more, to consumers.

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In what town officials view as a win-win for residents and restaurant owners, Public Health Director Natasha Waden and the Arlington Department of Health and Human Services have developed a streamlined process/application for restaurants that wish to sell groceries directly to consumers to obtain a permit from the town. This aims to ensure that food sales remain in line with health and safety guidelines while providing a new and vital source of revenue for distressed businesses and a new source of food and grocery staples for residents.

A Wednesday, Apri 15, news release says the town is also waiving the usual $150 permit fee for restaurant owners who take advantage of this special permit. Restaurants that take part in the special permit process will have to display a special notice in their window indicating that they have received a permit from the town to sell groceries direct to consumers. The special permits will expire when the Commonwealth of Massachusetts lifts its order on nonessential businesses and restaurant dining.

Only currently permitted food-service establishments that are in good standing with the town Health Department will be eligible to apply for the special grocery sales permit.

In response to a query from YourArlington, Kylee Sullivan, town health-compliance officer, wrote April 16: "All permitted food establishments in town are in good standing with the Health Department. We currently have 165 permitted establishments."

See the listing provided here >>

Restaurants interested in the special permit can download an application at the Health Department's Food page by clicking here >> The form is titled "Temporary Change of Food Operation-Plan Review Application."

Waden said in the release that she decided to go in this direction after learning from restaurant owners that, in order to stay in business during social distancing, restaurants still had to make minimum purchases from their food suppliers. And those minimum purchases mean restaurants have to buy far more food than they are selling via takeout.

"The Arlington Health Department is diligently working with our food establishments to ensure that they can continue to operate during this global pandemic," Waden said. "Food safety is of utmost importance and cannot be overlooked, even during the pandemic. Restaurants cannot flip a switch and become a grocery store overnight, but by working collaboratively with restaurant owners and managers to ensure their establishments can meet mandatory food-safety requirements, including sanitation, labeling and packaging, we can permit restaurants to sell groceries and meat directly to consumers."

Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine praised the Health Department for developing a safe and business friendly solution within 24 hours of receiving a report that an Arlington restaurant was selling groceries and raw meat to customers.

"These are extraordinary circumstances, and with everything going on surrounding Covid-19, I am very proud of our Health Department for quickly developing a process that will help businesses and keep residents safe at the same time," Chapdelaine said. "Arlington is a community that is built on its partnerships, and this is yet another example of that philosophy in motion."

This news announcement was published Wednesday, April 15. It is from John Guilfoil Public Relations, which provides news releases to the town. It was updated to add a listing.