NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Indoor dining capacity for restaurants in Connecticut has the green light to expand back to 100% capacity starting March 19. But there are some COVID-19 restrictions that will remain in place.
Restaurants in New Haven News 8 spoke with said while they were initially excited about the prospect of moving to a sense of normal with capacity limits soon a thing of the past, some said it won’t help much when it comes to staying afloat.
Governor Ned Lamont’s ease on restaurant capacity restrictions comes at just about a year to the date when restaurants were first ordered to shut down at the top of the pandemic.
The new order allows restaurants to seat eight people to a table with a required closing time of 11 p.m. Face coverings, frequent cleaning and social distancing are still required, which means restaurants won’t be able to use all of their tables and chairs.
George Koutramanis, the owner of Yorkside Pizza told News 8, “It’s gonna go to 100 percent capacity but with social distancing, most restaurants are gonna probably be between 50 and 70 percent because you still have to have some feet in between them…We’ll probably end up picking up another 10-15 people and every little bit helps.”
Koutramanis said with student life coming back to the Elm City little by little, the 100% capacity is still limiting.
“Students are back and out of quarantine and they’ve been coming out. We are looking into the plexiglass now which would mean we could use every booth but that means we can’t use the tables here.”
Social distancing rules from Lamont will force Connecticut restaurants to keep tables distanced while lifting capacity restrictions. It’s not just Yorkside Pizza, other businesses in the area are feeling the frustration.
Maria Torto of Christopher Martins in New Haven said, “Saying we can increase our capacity with no limits but still having the six feet social distancing doesn’t really give us the option to add any more tables…It doesn’t really help restaurants now.”
Katherine Mcauliffe of Christopher Martins added, “You can have only so many people at the bar, it just puts limitations on us and what we can do to kind of have guests come in and be able to take care of them safely.”
This is why restaurants are bracing for patience and flexibility as they move into this new chapter.