As COVID-19 restrictions continue to take their economic toll in Massachusetts, members of the Wareham Police Department have found a way to support struggling local businesses and local families at the same time.

Officers have pledged to purchase $50 gift cards from every Wareham restaurant and grocery store and to distribute those cards to families in need throughout the year, according to the Wareham Police Association.

"Unfortunately some restaurants have closed during this time, but gift cards will be purchased once they reopen," the police association said in a media release.

The news comes as Massachusetts unemployment numbers continue to climb. Close to one million workers in the state have sought unemployment benefits since mid-March, representing more than a quarter of the state's entire labor force. According to data released on Thursday, the food and accommodation industry has had the most ongoing claims.

Following an executive order issued by Gov. Charlie Baker, all non-essential businesses have been closed since March 24 to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Restaurants have been allowed to operate if they provide take-out service only and follow strict sanitation and social distancing protocols. Nonetheless, restaurants have seen steep declines in revenue and many have been forced to lay off workers or close their doors.

If anyone knows of a family that would benefit from a gift card, they are asked to contact any member of the Wareham Police Department. Contact information can be found on the Wareham Police Department website.

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