CONNECTICUT (WTNH) — It’s big news for small businesses. Some of those COVID-19 restrictions are loosening up. That 10 p.m. curfew is moving to 11 p.m.

Governor Ned Lamont made the announcement Monday, pointing to the high vaccination rate and decrease in infection rates. For restaurants especially, that one hour makes a big difference.

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“I’m excited that we’re actually moving in a positive direction,” said Phil Barnett, who owns Hartford Restaurant Group, which includes the Wood-N-Tap restaurants all over the state. 

January and February are already the toughest months of the year for restaurants. Couple that with a pandemic that brought the industry to a halt, these restauranteurs said they need all the help they can get. 

“To get that extra hour leading up until Super Bowl weekend, it’s going to matter,” said Scott Dolch of the Connecticut Restaurant Association. “Also Valentine’s Day is the weekend after. It’s a step in the right direction, and we hope that will continue to see numbers trend down and possibly even look at other opportunities to roll forward in the coming weeks and months.”

After months of frustration, those in the industry say they feel heard.

“The governor is listening to our industry and how much need we have right now,” said Barnett. “An additional hour, it’s huge for many restaurants getting through some of these challenging times.”

Dolch said he’s been grateful for the governor’s ear in explaining what the industry needs while trying to keep customers and staff safe. 

“This is why the curfew even moving it back an hour matters and here’s what a turn means in a restaurant, like getting a nine o’clock seating matters,” he said. 

While some restrictions were eased, some have not changed. For restaurants, that indoor capacity will remain at 50% with all those social distance requirements still in place.