Commuter rail adds targeted service for essential travel
The MBTA and Keolis Commuter Services, the agency’s operating partner for commuter rail, announced minor additions and adjustments to the existing reduced services schedule.
These changes provide earlier train options for passengers with essential travel needs, such as medical professionals and emergency responders, and take effect March 25, officials said.
The Fitchburg, Haverhill, Lowell and Needham lines schedules will feature an additional early inbound train on the reduced service schedule. Additionally, Newburyport line inbound train 7150 will, starting March 25, depart Newburyport at 5:35 a.m., providing an option for passengers needing to be at North Station before 7 a.m.
"While ridership has been very low, these adjustments help accommodate our community’s needs in these unprecedented circumstances,” said David Scorey, CEO and general manager of Keolis. "By adding these options, we are providing public transit for those with essential travel needs and enabling as much social distancing as is possible on commuter rail.''
With Massachusetts under a State of Emergency declared by the governor, it is important to emphasize the need for everyone to limit travel unless it is essential, train officials said. Keolis customer service team members will hand out printed copies of these new schedules at North Station, South Station and Back Bay Station. Printed schedules are also available at ticket offices.
To support social distancing onboard trains, conductors will provide access to all coach cars, even with low ridership, during both peak service and off-peak service. Passengers are reminded to only board and get off trains at doors attended by a conductor. Bicycles will be allowed on all reduced service schedule trains.
Keolis and the MBTA will provide updates on service to passengers via Twitter at @MBTA_CR, at MBTA.com, through T-Alerts and on station signage and onboard announcements.
The complete Reduced Service Schedule including these adjustments is available online at MBTA.com/coronavirus.
Senior shopping, revised operating hours
HAVERHILL — To help make sure older adults, who are among the most vulnerable to the rapidly spreading and potentially deadly virus, can get what they need while still limiting contact with others, Market Baskets around the region are offering senior-citizen-only shopping from 5:30 to 7 a.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
These hours are open to people 60 and older.
Effective March 23, all Market Baskets have new operating hours. The general public can shop from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week.
For updates, visit online at shopmarketbasket.com.
RMV opens eight locations with new protocols
The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) announced that eight of its 30 customer service center locations are open, including the office in Lawrence.
Customers who do not have immediate needs for required in-person services are asked to delay their visits. These RMV locations will prioritize only transactions that cannot be completed online, over the phone or by mail. Customers are also asked to not bring multiple individuals with them. Meanwhile, AAA locations will continue to offer select RMV services to AAA members and road tests will be suspended indefinitely.
Customers visiting the open centers will be issued tickets on a first-come, first-served basis with priority given to those customers with transactions that cannot be completed online. Limited tickets will be issued based on capacity and number of customers that can be served realistically through the course of the day. Any remaining customers will be asked to leave and return another day.
These locations will be open until further notice: Boston/Haymarket, Brockton, Fall River, Lawrence, Pittsfield, Plymouth, Springfield and Worcester.
Hearings will be conducted at Boston/Haymarket, Brockton, Fall River, Lawrence, Springfield and Worcester.
Commercial license renewals extended
The Registry of Motor Vehicles announced it is implementing a 60-day extension to Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDLs) and Commercial Learner’s Permits (CLPs) expired or expiring in March and April, and that the Service Centers in Milford and Wilmington are reopened to exclusively perform commercial license/permit transactions.
These initiatives recognize the importance of commercial vehicle drivers to the supply chain during the State of Emergency declaration, and will continue to prioritize reducing customer volumes in physical locations.
All commercial licenses or permits with an expiration date between March 1 and April 30 will have the 60-day extension applied to that customer’s credential.
In addition, in an effort to help customers maintain proper social distancing, as of March 20 the annual motor vehicle safety and emissions inspection expiration dates are being extended.
All non-commercial vehicle inspection stickers that expire on April 30 (designated by a number 4 on the inspection sticker) must be inspected by June 30
All motorcycle inspection stickers originally set to expire on May 31 must be inspected by June 30.
The RMV is also extending the time during which newly registered vehicles must be inspected, which is typically within 7 days of the date of registration.
COVID-19 scam warning
U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling has issued a stern warning regarding scams and other crimes related to the COVID-19 outbreak.
"As our communities take extraordinary measures to confront the coronavirus outbreak, some may view this as an opportunity to prey on the public’s fears and anxieties," he said.
The Department of Justice is now focused on cybercrime, sale of counterfeit goods, treatment scams and other healthcare and investment scams arising from the pandemic, Lelling said.
"My office will aggressively prosecute anyone engaged in this kind of activity," he said.
Massachusetts residents who believe they are victims of fraud or other criminal activity related to the pandemic should contact the United States Attorney’s Office at USAMA.email@example.com or call 1-888-221-6023 and leave a message. Members of the public can also contact the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) by visiting www.IC3.gov. If you or someone you know are in immediate danger, please call 911.
Walk for Hunger on May 3 canceled
Project Bread’s 52nd annual Walk for Hunger, originally scheduled for May 3, has been canceled.
Many Merrimack Valley food pantries depend on the Walk; many Merrimack Valley residents participate to live their faith.
Parochial schools now closed until April 7
All Archdiocese of Boston parish schools and archdiocesan elementary and high schools are following the governor's orders and closed until April 7.
Parents of children in Catholic schools such as Saint Augustine in Andover are asked to visit the following website for information and links to a variety of educational resources: smore.com/r69a5-the-digital-classroom.
Fabrizia Spirits making hand sanitizer
Responding to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Salem, New Hampshire-based Fabrizia Spirits is launching its own line of lemon-scented hand sanitizer and will donate the first 3,000 bottles to first responders and health care facilities in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
The company intends to continue making donations as long as it is producing hand sanitizer. Fabrizia Hand Sanitizer, which is made with real lemons, will also be available in 8-ounce and 4-ounce bottles for purchase.
"Shifting our focus allows us to make a positive impact on the people who are on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19,” said Phil Mastroianni, co-founder and owner of Fabrizia Spirits.
"From a business standpoint, traditional product orders are starting to slow and we expect that trend to continue as the state and national governments take necessary steps to stop the spread of the virus," he added. "Producing our own hand sanitizer, which we are doing at cost, allows us to stay open and keep staff employed in an extremely uncertain time.”
Production began on March 23, and plans are to immediately begin making donations. Fabrizia Hand Sanitizer is made with real lemons, ethanol and glycerin. Lemons are the key ingredient in nearly all of Fabrizia’s products, making the lemon-scented hand sanitizer a natural fit.
For more information about Fabrizia Spirits, visit online at fabriziaspirits.com.