Since March of 2020, Connecticut bars and nightclubs that do not serve food have been closed. In less than a month, that will change as virtually all business restrictions will be lifted on May 19.
Relief, is how one bar manager says he feels finally knowing an actual date he’ll be allowed to reopen.
“We never were sure of when it was all going to come back. It was all just guessing,” said Sean Patrick Murray, manager of New London’s Oasis Pub.
The Oasis is a neighborhood bar that has been shuttered since March 16, leaving Murray and his customers unsure of the future.
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“I’d get emails, texts, calls, all sorts of things saying 'when are you guys going to open?' We haven’t had an answer,” Murray explains.
Now he does. May 19 is the day Governor Lamont says restrictions that have kept bars closed for over a year will finally be lifted. While masks will still be required whenever people aren’t eating or drinking, these eased restrictions will also allow restaurants to return ton100 percent capacity.
“It’ll be exciting to see new faces and people coming back,” said Aaron Kirby, who manages Hartford’s Tavern Downtown Restaurant and Sports Bar.
Building customer confidence, though, is something bar managers say they must do. It’s a challenge that could take time, as not everyone is ready to return to normal dining and bar experiences.
“I think it can be dangerous in the sense that people are going to feel more comfortable now that they’re getting a vaccine, but not everyone is going to have their vaccine by May 19,” said Lartif Thornton, of West Hartford.
While some people have concerns, others are ready to return to bars and restaurants.
“I feel safe,” said EveIyn Cruz, of East Hartford. “Right now, our family does go out once in a while so, yeah, I think it’s a great thing.”
While May 19 is when the major changes will occur, some relaxation will start May 1. That includes allowing restaurants to remain open until midnight. Food will still be required with alcohol service indoors.
Indoor bars that only serve alcohol must remain closed. However, outdoor bars that only serve beverages may open.
Outdoor dining will continue but there will no longer be an eight person per table limit.