WINCHESTER - Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Select Board approved a motion at the recommendation of Town Manager Lisa Wong to waive all liquor license fees, including any fees for outdoor heating, for FY21 (this fiscal year).

The fees tend to bring in around $40,000 in revenue, so the town will lose out on this small revenue stream. However, the board felt restaurants, as well as packages stores and clubs to a lesser extent, bore the brunt of the COVID-19 shutdowns. Therefore, this gesture should help save owners some money as winter approaches.

In total, the board agreed to waive the $125 filing fee and the $50 outdoor heating fee. They will also extend outdoor dining so restaurants can continue to remain open even as the weather turns colder (but inside capacity remains limited).

Select Board Chair Michael Bettencourt happily advocated for the recommendation of the Town Manager, calling it a “worthwhile investment.”

The only quibble came when Select Board member Mariano Goluboff wondered if these fee adjustments would apply to package stores which he noted have mostly remained opened. Wong said her recommendation didn’t distinguish between restaurants, package stores or clubs, but the board could make that distinction if they felt it necessary.

Instead, even though package stores haven’t lost as much business, the board agreed they’ve lost enough business due to people possibly entertaining less; therefore, they voted to include those establishments in, as well. But, mostly, this decision was made to help restaurants struggling through this pandemic.

“Restaurants are the pulse of this town,” Select Board member Amy Shapiro argued.

Wong noted that owners still need to apply, so the town will attempt to get this information out as soon as possible.

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