By Jim Smith

SOMERVILLE (CBS) — The battle against the coronavirus is ramping up in Somerville, and that means more businesses will be on the sidelines. Somerville Mayor Joseph Curatone has set a midnight deadline for many businesses to shut down Saturday in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We either take these measures now and understand it is gonna disrupt our lives, it is crippling our economy, but in order to avoid the worst case scenario, in order to save lives, we need to do this,” Curatone said.

The order is primarily aimed at personal services like hairdressers, barber shops, nail salons and some general retail. Grocery and hardware stores will still be open, along with bike shops and laundromats.

Dry cleaners, banks, check cashing services and stores that sell essential household goods and cleaning products are also not required to close. Restaurants are still open for takeout as well.

Somerville Mayor Joseph Curatone. (WBZ-TV)

Somerville residents seemed supportive of the mayor’s order.

“If it’s as contagious as they say it is, you have to do it. One person gets infected, they walk around, infect five or six others. That’s what they’re fighting,” one resident said. “So yeah, I hate it. Don’t like it. My favorite pub is shut down, but I’d rather that than be sick.”

“I think it’s very smart,” another resident said. “But I think it comes down to a lot of these places around here are small businesses. So I think it will be very interesting to see what’s gonna happen in the next couple of days in regards to how we’re gonna help them get by during this time.”

Gov. Charlie Baker reaffirmed Saturday that he is not calling for a shelter in place order right now.

“We will make decisions based on data and guidance that we get from public health experts from state and federal authorities and based on the facts as we understand them on the ground here in the Commonwealth,” he said at a news conference.

But Mayor Curatone disagrees, and is urging the governor to declare a shelter in place.

“While I understand the governor wanted to balance the economic impact, we need to make sure we avoid at all costs allowing our healthcare system to collapse.,” Curatone said. “This epidemic is changing at an exponential rate, rapidly on a daily basis. We don’t have the luxury of taking incremental steps to attack it.”

Jim Smith

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