coronavirus in connecticut

Restaurants Brace for Reopening Rollback to Phase 2.1

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On Friday the entire state rolls back its reopening. That means several added restrictions for restaurants and other businesses. State leaders hope the new rules will stop the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

At Treva in West Hartford heaters are in place to extend the use of outdoor space. On Thursday the governor extended outdoor dining into February. And while Treva and other restaurants look to capitalize on warm weather this weekend, they know that soon enough indoor dining will be their main option.

New Phase 2.1 restrictions are set to go into effect as more towns reach the state's COVID-19 "Red Alert" status.

"We're trying to do what we can to maximize the dining space inside, and we only have as much space as we do," said Treva General Manager David Mascolo.

Starting Friday, the amount of people allowed inside the restaurant will shrink. A modified Phase 2, labeled Phase 2.1, will go into effect. It will lower indoor capacity for restaurants from 75% to 50%. A maximum of eight people will be allowed per table.
(Note: a graphic during the governor's press conference on Thursday stated the limit was 6 people, but that was later identified by officials as a typo)

Restaurants will also have to close their dining rooms at 10 p.m., though takeout and delivery can continue well after.

"It kind of hurts us a little bit. It's a concerning thing if you can't make up the sales with takeout and things like that," said Mascolo.

"Everybody's feeling it right now, and we're all looking around to see what the next stage is going to be and what's around the corner," said Johnny Vaughan, owner of Vaughan's Public House in Hartford.

Vaughan said his concern is the lack of foot traffic in the city. With no events happening downtown, he's never seen it so empty.

"The big picture is there is, unfortunately, no events downtown. UConn hockey is gone. Men's and women's basketball is gone. There's no concerts, events, Disney on Ice. So at the time of the year where there were holidays as well, there's not much going on right now. So we're trying to keep our doors open. We're trying to stay afloat, but we're in the same boat as a lot of people downtown and every day is a bit of a struggle to be honest with you," said Vaughan.

State officials said in addition to a small business assistance program that gives $5,000 grants, they're happy to consider other programs to help and are also keeping an eye on Washington DC for additional stimulus bills.

When asked why restrictions to restaurants are part of Phase 2.1, officials said community spread is becoming a greater risk in the state again so spacing and protocols are more important than ever.

There is a petition online that more than 10,000 people have signed that asks for a lift to the dining room curfew.

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