Many businesses close their offices as manhunt for bombing suspect continues
Local businesses were scrambling Friday morning after state authorities asked people in several communities to stay home and MBTA service was suspended.
Athenahealth Inc., a company specializing in electronic health records, is based in Watertown, the focus of an intensive manhunt for a suspect in the Boston Marathon explosions.
The company sent out a company wide e-mail notifying employees that its Watertown office is closed, and sent an automated phone alert as well, athenahealth spokeswoman Amanda Guisbond said.
“Our headquarters are in Watertown so you can imagine how important it is to get that news to employees fast,” Guisbond said in an e-mail.
“We’ve notified employees through automated phone messaging, email and through targeted manager outreach to teams,” athenahealth said in a statement. “We’ve also worked to notify partners, clients and contractors that our Watertown office will remain closed until further notice. We will conduct business from our other facilities – including our Belfast, Maine, office which includes many of our operations and client services. All athenahealth services are fully operational.”
Matt Brelis, spokesman for the Massachusetts Port Authority, said that Logan International Airport is “open and operating under heightened security.”
He advised potential travelers to check with their airlines about flight cancellations.
Dicerna Pharmaceuticals, meanwhile, decided early to have all employees work from home.
“Our management team made the decision at 6:30 a.m. to have all employees work from home until further notice,” chief executive Douglas Fambrough said in a statement. “We contacted employees via e-mail to alert them to this decision. Approximately 15-30 minutes after we made the decision to keep the office closed and notified our employees, we learned that police and state officials were asking all businesses in the Arsenal St. areas in Watertown to remain closed today. As soon as we know more from officials, we will be in touch with our employees to give instructions regarding when our office may re-open.”
At National Grid, which has a major office in Waltham, spokeswoman Jackie Barry said the utility has shut down its facilities in all affected areas and e-mailed and auto-called all employees asking them to stay home.
“We are fully cooperating with the request of public safety and federal officials, and obviously our main concern is the safety of our employees and customers,” said spokeswoman Jackie Barry.
She said the utility has activated its emergency response plan – based on law enforcement and Homeland Security protocols -- to ensure the safety of its utility infrastructure.
“We do have crews available today and we will work with public safety an fire departments if there is any need to respond to any gas emergency in the affected areas we serve,” Barry said, adding that the company routinely trains for just such emergency situations and has remote capability so that essential personnel can carry out key duties without being in the office.
Late Friday morning, National Grid issued a statement, saying, “Due to the active police presence in the Greater Boston area, National Grid crews will only be responding to emergency situations in coordination with local authorities.”
Michael Durand, a spokesman for Northeast Utilities, the parent company of NStar and Western Massachusetts Electric Co., said the utility has told employees to stay out of locked down communities and away from service centers in or around Boston. Employees who had already arrived at work are being kept inside.
“We’ve been communicating with state police about this all morning,” Durand said via email. “Our plan today is to coordinate any response to customer calls in the affected areas with law enforcement. We’re also advising customers who call us today of possible delays in responding.”
The Cambridge Innovation Center in Kendall Square, which is home to hundreds of small start-ups and thousands of tech workers, closed down Friday, following Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s lead that all of its employees remain at home and stay indoors.
“No one is going down there,” said Alexandra Lee, deputy director of the Kendall Square Association, a local business group.
Lee said the neighborhood was already rattled by a bomb threat at the Kendall Square T stop on Thursday during the lunch hour.
“We are staying home, we aren’t going anywhere,” said Lee.
The Internet infrastructure company Akamai Technologies Inc. , one of the biggest employers in Kendall Square, advised that all of its Cambridge employees work from home Friday.
Biogen Idec spokeswoman Amanda Galgay said the biotechnology company has shuttered its Somerville and Cambridge campuses, and employees, including those who work in the Weston campus, were emailed around 7 a.m. that they were being encouraged to stay home, with work optional. The company employs 3,000 in Massachusetts.
Biogen Idec, which manufactures the multiple sclerosis drug Avonex at its 24-hour operation in Cambridge, said it has plans in place to ensure that there are no interruptions in the drug supply.
“Our main concern is communicating with employees,” Galgay said.
Genzyme, another local biotech company, has also closed its Cambridge and Waltham offices, according to an email from company spokeswoman Lori Gorski. The firm’s Allston facility, where it makes enzyme replacement drugs for rare diseases, is a 24-hour operation and will remain open using staff that was already on location. All Genzyme employees were notified of the shutdowns and asked to tune into the news from home for the latest updates.
“We have been communicating with staff all week with information on employees’ safety, perspectives from our leadership on what happened, as well as resources to help employees and their families cope with the tragedy,” the company said via email.
Gorski said Genzyme had a team of 18 runners in Monday’s marathon, raising money for rare disorders, but all have been accounted for.
The state pension fund staff and Treasury office were closed.
Banks closed branches in the affected areas, and had skeletal staffs at headquarters offices. For instance, Eastern Bank’s downtown office was closed but its Lynn operations office was open.
Bank of America, with 7,000 employees in Massachusetts, has closed all its branches and administrative offices in the Boston area, spokesman TJ Crawford said.
“Our job is to keep our people constantly updated,’’ he said.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston said most of its 1,000 employees were working from home. The local arm of the central bank continued to stay in touch with banks and others to monitor the money supply and its other duties.
“We expect no interruption to any Federal Reserve operations, including cash availability at banks and ATMs, as we continue to work closely with the banking community and armored carrier networks to serve consumers’ needs,’’ spokesman Joel Werkema said.
For its part, the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority said it has suspended operations at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center and the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center.
Early Friday afternoon, the authority issued another statement: “Attendees and exhibitors arriving for any of our events should be able to access hotels via taxi, but should expect delays due to heavy security presence throughout the city. Hotels across the city are open and honoring reservations. Once attendees and exhibitors reach their hotels, they are encouraged to stay there until further notice.”
The Whole Foods supermarket chain, meanwhile, said that several of its local stores won’t open Friday as usual.
“Whole Foods Market locations in Brighton, Newton, Newtonville, Brookline, and our three Cambridge stores, as well as our regional office will remain closed until we receive word that it is safe to open,” Heather W. McCready, a Whole Foods public relations manager, said. “Our emergency communication system was activated early this morning to notify all team members in those locations and team members that live in the affected areas that they should stay home. Team Members already at the stores have been asked to lock the doors and halt all receiving until further notice.”
The chain said its Symphony, Charles River Plaza, and Jamaica Plain locations are closed as well.
Stop & Shop said that about a dozen of its stores are not open currently, including two stores in Watertown, one in Allston, and another in Brookline.
Mullen is an ad agency with roughly 450 employees at its Boston office. Mullen president Alex Leikikh sent out an agency-wide e-mail telling people to “stay safe and work from home.” The agency followed a similar procedure after the Monday explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, an agency spokesman said.
Hill Holliday, another large Boston ad agency, took similar steps. Chief executive Mike Sheehan sent an e-mail Friday morning saying that Hill Holliday is closed today.
State Street Corp., a Boston financial services company, issued the following statement: “Employees in the lockdown areas outside of Boston have been asked to work from home and follow direction from local, state or federal authorities. All other non-essential employees are being asked to work from home. We continue to maintain critical business functions while ensuring the safety of our employees.”
The Associated Industries of Massachusetts, one of the largest trade groups in Boston, said its chief financial officer e-mailed the group’s 45 employees this morning to stay away from their Beacon Street offices, which are closed.
“Our chief financial officer sent a note [about the closure] to us about an hour ago. It just seemed like the wise thing to do because of the scope of activity and because of our location on Beacon,” said executive vice president Chris Geerhan, who said he and others were monitoring media accounts, Twitter, and other social media outlets to check in with member companies and loved ones.
“Unbelievable, unbelieveable,” he said.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital is on lockdown, only allowing in patients with appointments and employees with IDs. People were prevented from leaving until shortly before 10 a.m., when they were told they could exit at 45 Francis St. The main entrance at 75 Francis St. remained restricted. The hospital declined to comment.
Zipcar, the car-sharing company, said it has notified its members via e-mail that travel is being restricted locally. They urged people to stay home, but said any member in the middle of a reservation who feels unsafe returning a vehicle to its home location should contac the company at 866-494-7227.
A spokesman for Dunkin’ Donuts’ Canton-based parent company said via e-mail: “We have told employees to comply with the governor’s order and stay safe. Employees in the affected areas are working from home. The office is open for employees not impacted by the lock-down who choose to come in. Additionally, in the early hours of this morning, we also called all of our franchisees in the affected areas and made sure they were aware of the situation and advised them to follow the governor’s order.”
Nuance Communications Inc. a company known for its speech-recognition technology, has closed its Cambridge office and has encouraged everyone else to exercise extreme caution and to follow any instructions or recommendations of officials and law enforcement.
The Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, also known as MassBio, has closed its Cambridge office and cancelled a meeting set for this morning with a delegation from Portugal, MassBio spokeswoman Sarah MacDonald said in an e-mail. MassBio is an
an association of more than 600 biotechnology companies, universities, and academic institutions.Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. and the Broad Institute, both members of MassBio, are also closed, she added.
“ Most of our members in the Kendall Square area rely on the MBTA system to get folks to and from the office.” MacDonald saidChris Reidy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.