Businesses thrilled state phasing out COVID restrictions, but say don’t expect all pandemic safety measures to disappear

New Haven

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Connecticut is lifting COVID-19 safety restrictions on businesses. That means bars will be back open after more than a year. And no more curfews come May 19th. Bars and businesses are reacting.

Businesses say they are thrilled, but don’t expect those plate-glass barriers to disapear.

RELATED: ‘Back to our new normal’: Gov. Lamont announces COVID restriction rollbacks to be in place by May 19

Arik Verav, a server at Te Amo Tequila, told News 8, “Definitely excited. Definitely, everything’s back to normal.”

Verav sees light at the end of a year-long tunnel. Prior to the pandemic, the bar and restaurant was part of a bustling nightlife in downtown New Haven.

Verav says the state lifting limits on alcohol, closing time, and capacity comes just in time.

“We’ve been trying to bring everyone back because we’ve been really busy, as you can see,” Verav said.

Shelley Quiala and Anthony McDonald were making plans over lunch when we caught up with them Tuesday. Quiala heads the International Festival of Arts and Ideas. McDonald is the executive director of the Shubert Theater.

“It helps the confidence of our community to say ‘I’m ready to engage.’ The city says it’s ok, the state says it’s ok, and as long as we know it’s being closely monitored by health officials – which it is – it’s all good,” Quiala explained.

The rollbacks are good news for them, too.

McDoland said, “At the end of the day, it’s about making sure everyone feels safe, everyone is protected, and we can get back to a little bit of normalcy.”

Restaurants will now make their own social distancing decisions. At Conspiracy in Middletown, Head Bartender Dustin Amore says, “Our barriers aren’t going anywhere. The sanitization standards. The mask-wearing by our staff, the mask policies at the bar.”

Amore says it’ll likely take time to beef up pandemic slim staffs – many of whom have left the business after a rough year.

“I really hope people are patient with the service industry this year,” he said. “It’s a few people doing a lot.”

And he’s asking people to be respectful of the safety your favorite restaurant might choose to hold onto. This is not a reset to two years ago—it’s a new normal.

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