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The Checkup: Restaurants catch a break on beer, wine sales

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The Berkshire Eagle

With this daily feature, The Eagle runs down breaking local developments in the coronavirus crisis.

THE NUMBERS: Three residents of Berkshire County died due to COVID-19 in the most recent daily report, the state said Saturday.

The Department of Public Health said a woman in her 90s with preexisting medical conditions, a man in his 90s and a man in his 80s — both with undisclosed medical histories — died of the disease in the reporting period that closed at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. Those three deaths were among 24 new deaths reported, lifting the toll to 216 in Massachusetts.

The number of confirmed cases in the county rose to 253, from 240. The 24-hour period saw 5,838 new tests conducted statewide, for a total of 68,800. As of Saturday, 1,334 new cases had been confirmed, for a state total of 11,736.

DELIVERING RELIEF: Restaurants and bars prohibited from serving customers now have a way to keep their enterprises going amid the pandemic. Thomas Campoli, chairman of the Pittsfield Licensing Board, notes that a bill that Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law Friday allows restaurants that hold alcohol licenses to sell beer and wine for takeout and delivery services. The law covers all such businesses in the state.

The same bill makes official that state residents have until July 15 to file their income tax returns. It also delays deadlines on a range of municipal must-dos, including dates for town meetings.

BRTA SCALES BACK: Riders on Berkshire Regional Transit Authority buses should check schedules for weekday routes. Five have been cut from hourly service to service every 120 minutes. The changes affect routes 1, 2, 4, 11 and 21 that provide transportation from Pittsfield to North Adams, Lee, Dalton/Hinsdale and Berkshire Community College and between Lee and Great Barrington. A story on the cutbacks appeared in Saturday's Eagle.

BIG DIG OUT OF SLUMP?: The watchdog group MassBudget says that while the $2.2 trillion federal CARES Act is "a good starting point" in aiding the people of Massachusetts, "the road to recovery will require more federal funding."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated as much this past week. She said that before advancing an infrastructure bill, Congress must help ordinary people whose lives are in tumult over the virus.

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Marie-Frances Rivera, president of MassBudget, said the financial hit on the Bay State will be big.

"Our estimates show that the state could see annual revenue shortfalls of about $5-6 billion," Rivera said in a statement Friday. "We can't afford to cut services or delay the promises that we've made to our children and families We face uncertain times that underscore the importance of investing in the public good and passing equitable policy."

TAXMAN COMETH LATER IN NORTH ADAMS: Like other communities statewide, North Adams is giving residents more time to pay a slew of local bills to the municipality.

Regardless of the due dates printed on the bills, residents have until June 1 to pay real estate and personal property taxes as well as water and sewer bills and motor vehicle excise taxes.

Mayor Tom Bernard announced the change Friday, saying he sympathizes with residents whose financial conditions might have changed due to the virus.

"I hope these extensions will help provide some relief at a time when we all could use one less thing to worry about," he said in a release.

The city also will waive interest charges for late payments on bills that would have been due after March 10, before the mayor's Friday announcement. But, the city only has the discretion to do so much.

New state law says payments for things like taxes and water and sewer bills that come in after June 30 will be subject to penalties and interest as of June 1.

And in keeping with Gov. Charlie Baker's recent order, city offices in North Adams will remain closed to the public until May 4.

To contribute news to The Checkup, please email lparnass@berkshireeagle.com or call 413-588-8341.


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