An effort is underway to keep the extra tables that popped up outside at restaurants during the pandemic, at least for a little bit longer.
“It did feel safe being outside, especially the fresh air,” said April Black of Hartford.
Many consider expanded outdoor eating to have been a success during this unprecedented time.
“It’s been very important. There’s been good, strong demand for outdoor dining,” said Keith Rocheleau, Restaurant Bricco manager in West Hartford.
Now, some want to keep it going a little longer.
“What they asked us to come up with was what did the governor do through his executive orders that helped the industry?” said Rep. David Rutigliano, R – Trumbull.
Rutigliano also along with partners operates seven restaurants in the state.
Right now, Governor Ned Lamont’s restaurant order goes to mid-April.
“Even though the official public health emergency may end, we think that there's some residual effects that will, you know, make it lag in our industry for a little bit of time,” said Rutigliano.
Rutigliano has introduced a bill to continue expanded outdoor dining through this summer or maybe next summer.
It offers an option for those more comfortable outside and adds more seats for restaurants.
“It also gives restaurants another, you know, facilities an opportunity to recover. I mean the capacity and the level of business has been severely restricted for about a year and so this might be one way to help some of these businesses, you know, get back up on their feet,” said Rutigliano.
Rutigliano said there is wide bipartisan support for the bill and he’s hopeful it will pass.