ARLINGTON (CBS) – Arlington is taking new steps to make sure people get the essentials they need and businesses stay in business during the coronavirus pandemic.

The town will now speed up its grocery permitting process so restaurants can start selling their food inventory, including meat, eggs, milk and more, directly to customers.

By allowing restaurants to sell groceries, people can avoid crowded stores and help restaurants, which have been devastated in the crisis, so they can make more money.

“Really what this opportunity does is it allows food establishments that may currently be operating as just a restaurant, take-out service…as long as they are in good standing with the health department they can apply for a temporary change of operation,” said Natasha Waden, the Arlington Public Health Director.

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The town wants this to start as soon as possible so its waiving the $150 permit fee. The restaurants will have to meet proper sanitation, labeling and packaging requirements.

“Essentially all individuals need to do is fill out the application and send in the necessary documents that we need, which would include a list of items that they are proposing to serve or sell as grocery items,” Waden said.

Once a restaurant is approved it will have to show the special notice in the window to let customers know they’re cleared to sell groceries.

This special permitting process will end as soon as the non-essential business shutdown order is lifted in Massachusetts.

“We recognize here in Arlington that we only have three major grocery stores, so this really does open up the opportunity for residents to get groceries at other places,” Waden said.

Restaurants won’t be able to become grocery stores overnight. They will still have to meet proper sanitation, labelling and packaging requirements. But the hope is that this might save restaurants from having to shutter their doors.