COVID-19 community updates

  • People pass Thornes Marketplace in Northampton in March, soon after the shopping center announced it would close March 15 due to the coronavirus crisis. Thornes reopened June 8, and has instituted many measures to promote the safety of customers and store employees. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Published: 6/28/2020 6:51:13 PM
TommyCar Autoshowrooms reopen

TommyCar Auto Group has reopened the showrooms of their five car dealerships. These include Country Nissan in Hadley; Country Hyundai, Genesis of Northampton and Northampton Volkswagen in Northampton; and Volvo Cars Pioneer Valley in South Deerfield.

All the dealerships have implemented additional measures to help protect their staff and customers, including:

• Limiting access based on occupancy limits.

• Providing hand sanitizer for use when entering and exiting their locations.

• Delivering test drive vehicles to customers at home or work, or by appointment.

• Sanitizing cars between test drives and disinfecting vehicles with PermaSafeTM, especially driver’s-side touchpoints.

• Picking up and dropping off cars in need of service.

In addition, they will follow federal and state guidelines including:

• Requiring all employees and customers to wear masks while within each location.

• Following the social distancing requirements established by the CDC.

For the latest updates about TommyCar Auto Group, visit

Thornes reopens, safety measuresin place

Thornes Marketplace, Main Street, Northampton, reopened for business on June 8 after putting many new protocols and equipment in place, including air filters that heighten air quality, foggers that sanitize the building nightly, and door monitors at each of the two open entrances to ensure that people entering Thornes wear masks and sanitize their hands. Thornes also installed hands-free door openers on bathroom doors.

Without college students and tourists from out of town, business is slower than is typical for this time of year, but customers are returning steadily. Shop owners, who have also instituted countless safety measures, are happy to see them.

After Thornes — and most retail and other industries statewide — were shut down this spring due to COVID-19, Sharon Cohen, the owner of Footbeats for Women, launched a website at, so customers could still purchase her shoes. She made deliveries to peoples’ homes.

Cohen says “We tried new, inventive ways to meet the customers.”

Cohen also said when customers try on a pair of shoes in the store, if they are leather and cannot be sanitized, they are put in quarantine for 24 hours, as per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.

Thornes itself has the safety of shoppers, store owners and staff at the forefront as it expands and flexes systems and operations.

“Thornes has done a lot to prepare for our opening, and we continue to stay educated and follow safety protocols,” Thornes Co-President Richard Madowitz said. “We are receiving consistent positive feedback from shoppers on the cleanliness of the building and their comfort. We are providing a safe environment.”

He added, “We have installed iWave ionizing air filters in all AC air handlers in the building to ensure high air quality, and we’ve purchased foggers that allow us to do extensive sanitizing overnight, while we are closed.”

Masks are available at the two open entrances, which are on Main Street and at the skywalk to and from the parking garage. “Masks are not required for those with medical conditions that prevent them from wearing one,” Madowitz added.

All shared tables and chairs on the building’s second and third floors, such as Share Coffee’s seating, have been removed, and directional arrows on the floors separate traffic and promote social distancing, as do stanchions throughout.

“Signage is everywhere,” Madowitz stressed. “Each store is managing its state-mandated capacity count, and Thornes itself is managing the state-mandated capacity counts for its common spaces without shops.”

Every morning before work, all Thornes staff follow CDC protocols, running through a COVID-19 readiness checklist before reporting for work.

Shops in Thornes will be open Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. All merchants must also open on a fifth day of their choice. Many stores are open daily, including Cedar Chest, Rebekah Brooks, Share Coffee, Booklink Booksellers, Footbeats for Women, Jackson & Connor, ASSEMBLE, Captain Candy and Herrell’s Ice Cream. Check for specifics on other stores, or visit individual shop websites or social media channels.

Parking downtown is free through July 31. Thornes will be closed July 4 and 5. To learn more about Thornes Marketplace, visit

Cooley Dickinson employees donate personal care items to area agencies

Cooley Dickinson Health Care employees donated hundreds of personal hygiene products ranging from hair brushes and razors to deodorant, soap and toothpaste to the Amherst and Northampton Survival Centers and the Easthampton Community Center, paying forward the generosity they received from local restaurants and businesses since the start of the COVID-19 public health crisis in March. Staff have received dozens of donated meals.

“It was so important to see firsthand the important work these agencies do for our communities,” says Cooley Dickinson Chief Nursing Officer Angela Belmont, RN, who along with Director of Community Health Jeff Harness delivered donations at the agencies this week.

“Our staff are so grateful for the generosity they have received from the community during the pandemic,” added Belmont.

Initially, Cooley Dickinson clinical staff — recipients of the donations of meals and other items such as surgical masks and gloves — wanted to thank the community by hosting a food drive. But due to the COVID-19 public health crisis, area shelters and food pantries were unable to accept food donations. Instead, shelter staff proposed another idea: donations of personal hygiene items.

From late May through early June, Cooley Dickinson staff conducted their own drive, gathering diapers, for children and adults; feminine hygiene articles; baby wipes; shampoo; toothpaste; dental floss; hair brushes and combs; soap; deodorant and other personal care items.

These items are sought-after because “our clients can’t use their SNAP (food stamp) funds to purchase taxable items,” says Executive Director of the Easthampton Community Center Robin Bialecki. In a letter thanking Cooley Dickinson staff, Bialecki noted that the donations “make a world of difference to those in need. From the staff and volunteers at the Easthampton Community Center and all of the 5,000 clients we assist in 23 area communities, our most heartfelt thanks!”

In addition to the personal care items gathered by hospital staff, each agency received a $2,500 gift of support from Cooley Dickinson Hospital to further their community outreach.

AG Healey’s office issues advisoryregarding paycheck protection program

Attorney General Maura Healey published an advisory providing support for small businesses looking to apply for loans through the Paycheck Protection Program. Business owners must apply for PPP loans by June 30.

The advisory answers common questions about the program and provides information for small business owners looking to apply. The AG’s office is making the advisory available on its website at, and is also reaching out to various small business trade associations to urge them to have their members consider applying for PPP assistance.

The advisory includes an FAQ that addresses a number of questions that small businesses may have including: Is my business the right size for this loan? Do I have all the documentation I need? How much should I borrow? How does loan forgiveness work? What are the biggest pitfalls? How do I avoid a big tax bill?

Congress created the Paycheck Protection Program under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act which was signed into law on March 27. The PPP provides small business loans backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

There is more than $100 billion still available for loans through this program. Currently, June 30 is the last date to submit a PPP loan application, and there is no guarantee that the federal government will extend the program or that Congress will allocate any further money once existing funds are expended.

The AG’s office is currently providing information that small businesses can use to connect them with resources that they may need, including information about loans and grants, rent abatement, insurance coverage, and ways to cut expenses. Free resources for small businesses are being offered through a comprehensive initiative, “Small Business Strong,” designed to provide guidance and expertise on addressing immediate challenges, finance and accounting, human resources, marketing, operations, and law. This initiative provides services in both English and Spanish. The AG’s office also joined a Covid Relief Coalition partnership to provide pro bono legal assistance to vulnerable small businesses. The coalition’s intake form for small businesses to receive free legal services is available here.

The AG’s office is also gathering information about how small businesses have coped during the pandemic, what resources have been helpful, and whether small businesses have been subject to any unfair practices. If you are the owner of a small business in Massachusetts, please consider sharing your experiences by filling out the AGO’s small business experience form.

Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061


Copyright © 2019 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy