Gov. Charlie Baker ordered all non-essential stores and businesses in Massachusetts to close Tuesday at noon to help reduce the spread of coronavirus. The order will be in effect until April 7.
WBUR reporter Bruce Gellerman and photojournalist Robin Lubbock went to Moody Street in Waltham to capture the mood of store owners in the heart of the city's commercial district.
Mail carrier Chris Kirk wears blue latex globes on his route along Moody Street. He recites the mail's famous motto — through rain and snow and sleet and hail — laughing, "We're coming, baby, we're coming."
Kirk says there is less mail than usual but delivering packages for Amazon is way up. "Nobody goes out shopping," he said.
In the windows and on doors of businesses along Moody Street hang signs of the times. One at Gourmet Pottery reads, "We're just closed for a time to be safe. Please be well. Can't wait to re-open."
Lizzy's Ice Cream owner Miriam Benitez placed a sign on her store's window saying it would be closed until April 7. She's trying to be optimistic. She says she hopes her shop will be open in July to celebrate its 25th anniversary.
Most of the signs along Moody Street are in Spanish and English. Some are in Urdu. At J&M Dollar Discount, owner Harismrat Singh (everyone calls him Harry) is closing his store an hour earlier. Otherwise, it's business as usual selling a wide variety of household items and foods.
"People don't have cars," in this neighborhood, he says. "They can't go to BJ's, Target or Costco, so they need to walk to get their stuff."
Singh says the mood on Moody Street in Waltham is upbeat.
"It's not sad or anything," he says. "Everyone knows it'll pass eventually."
This segment aired on March 24, 2020.