JEERS to a party that just doesn’t end.
It was 2 a.m. last Monday when Lawrence police closed an illegal nightclub at 57 Springfield Street. Police were called in to investigate a noise complaint and found a non-resident room in the building with the insignia of a club.
According to the police, ice buckets were filled with liquor bottles. Around the room were about 20 tables, a handful of propane patio heaters, and a few water pipes. A whiteboard on the wall had some sort of menu, and a notepad on a counter kept track of drinks sold.
When they entered the building through a side door, officials said they met about 100 people who had left. Inside, they met a woman disguised as a cocktail waitress, according to reporter Allison Corneau.
It’s bad enough running a nightclub without a permit when that actually happened. It’s worse in the middle of a pandemic.
It doesn’t matter what state order is still in effect, which limits gatherings to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors. A weekly report issued by state health officials two days later showed that Lawrence has about 80.5 COVID-19 cases per 50,000 population – far more than any other city in Massachusetts, with the exception of Acushnet, where the rate is only is a few cases higher.
In fact, only 27 out of 351 cities in the state have COVID-19 case numbers averaging more than 50 per 50,000.
Lawrence’s high number of cases is not new either. The city has carried some of the highest infection rates in the state for months.
Why should any of this matter to 100 people at a house party who probably felt good enough to have a few drinks and maybe smoke out of a hookah?
It’s important because someone doesn’t necessarily know who has COVID-19. Even people with COVID-19 often don’t know they are infected. And dozens of people who left as civil servants – many of whom were not wearing masks, the police found – could take the disease with them into the city.
Police chief Roy Vasque told Corneau he was concerned that the nightly tantrum had what it takes to become a “superspreader event” that will cause dozens and dozen of people to get sick.
“Aside from the fact that this activity is illegal in many ways … it is also dangerous and irresponsible,” he said. “The fact that anyone would organize to bring so many people together in one place – and that people would put themselves in danger by showing up – is ridiculous.”
Police and city officials examine fines for those responsible for the party as well as for the participants. However, a ticket shouldn’t be required – though they could certainly be expensive tickets that cost those present up to $ 1,000 per violation – to dissuade people from such risky behavior.
We’re in it together and the virus won’t stop until we all start making better decisions.
Cheers for new jobs in the Merrimack Valley as Amazon plans a distribution center on the site of the former Southwick clothing factory in Haverhill.
Mayor James Fiorentini said last week he expected the e-commerce giant to hire up to 150 packers and drivers to sort and deliver the shipments for the final leg of the package’s journey to homes and businesses across the region .
“We are very pleased that this spot is being used,” said Fiorentini of the Broadway Business Park location, which was emptied last year when Southwick’s parent company Brooks Brothers went bankrupt.
The location is not far from where Amazon is planning a much larger warehouse and distribution facility that is still under development by Osgood Landing in North Andover. Fiorentini expects the newest distribution center to have little disruption to local traffic as operations will begin after rush hour each day.
Amazon may be a major competitor for local merchants and small businesses battling economic pressures from a pandemic. On the other hand, the direct contributions to the region in terms of payroll and payments to the contractors who deliver their packages will be substantial.
As the reporter Corneau elaborated, the company’s presence is expected to lead to increases in property tax and excise tax payments. It will also bring to life a property that would otherwise be empty – a welcome sign of economic life in otherwise difficult times.