By Christina Hager

BOSTON (CBS) – Local businesses say they can’t reopen Boston’s economy without bulk supplies of protective gear. “If people don’t feel safe, they won’t go back anywhere,” said Sandy Lish, co-founder of The Castle Group, a public relations firm in Charlestown.

Many business owners say they’ve hit walls trying to stock up on things like masks, wipes, and hand sanitizer. Lish said her team has tried to get creative, combining orders with other businesses in their office building. “It was impossible to find wipes,” she said. “It’s just impossible, could not be found.”

Since businesses can’t reopen without these things, the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce has made an appeal for help from Governor Charlie Baker. “They want to provide hand sanitizer, cleaning equipment, masks,” said Chamber CEO James Rooney. “But even the big employers can’t get what they need, so we need help from government.”

At Eastern Bank, branches are considered essential, but only 25 percent of the bank’s workforce has been staffing them. Hundreds of other employees are home. When they gradually return to their offices, they’ll get a temperature check at the door.

“Finding an expanded supply of all of these things, and then add to it the need for infrared thermometers to check people’s temperature,” said Eastern Bank CEO Robert Rivers. “We put in several orders. We learned early on that just because you put in an order doesn’t mean it’s going to show up.”

They say a more structured method for purchasing bulk protective gear through government channels would help. “It’s now a cliché that we’re all in it together, but we are,” said Lish. “If we can’t all be safe, then no one can be safe.”

Christina Hager

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