A group of business leaders spanning several industries sent a letter to Gov. Ned Lamont on Wednesday asking him to allow some indoor dining at restaurants in Connecticut beginning June 3, according to the Connecticut Restaurant Association.
Under Phase One of Lamont's reopening plan, restaurants will be allowed outdoor dining as of May 20. Currently, restaurants can serve take-out or delivery only.
The letter raises concerns that restricting restaurants to outdoor dining only won't be enough for many of them to stay in business.
"We believe that limited, safe indoor dining is possible, and ask that a 50 percent capacity be allowed indoors beginning June 3rd, 14 days after other businesses are allowed to begin some operation indoors. Doing so would keep many local restaurants from going out of business in the weeks ahead," the letter said. “As malls, hair salons and others are allowed to gradually begin indoor service, as they should be, it makes sense restaurants would also be allowed some limited indoor service.”
The request to the governor asks that restaurants be allowed to open for indoor dining at 50-percent capacity beginning on June 3.
More than 130 people signed the letter to Lamont. They are leaders from industries that are connected to the restaurant industry, including farming, lodging, tourism, distribution, legal, and more, according to the Connecticut Restaurant Association.
The restaurants would also include other steps to protect customers and employees. They include:
- Limited overall restaurant capacity (50 percent to start) to allow for expanded distance between tables
- Absolutely no physical contact with staff
- No standing room or bar seating
- Added use of gloves and masks
- More intensive cleaning between customer interactions
- Implementing new technology for menus and payment to allow for less indirect contact
- Eliminating shared-use tabletop accompaniments (menus, condiments, etc.)
- Encouraging older adults and those with preexisting conditions not to dine indoors, and continuing to offer robust takeout and curbside options for all patrons
“It’s absolutely true that restaurants, like every type of business, present unique challenges, said Scott Dolch, Executive Director of the Connecticut Restaurant Association. "That’s why we’ve laid out specific steps that restaurants can take above and beyond what will be seen in many other indoor businesses to control the environment and keep it safe. Simply put, this will be a very different dining experience from what anyone is used to in the past.”
NBC Connecticut has reached out to Gov. Lamont's office for a comment on the proposal.