Governor Baker just announced new “targeted interventions” designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 as infections rise in Massachusetts and across the country this fall.
In addition to a 10 p.m. to 5 p.m. home stay advice that goes into effect Nov. 6, Baker signed an ordinance to close indoor recreational facilities such as theaters, casinos, and other entertainment venues at 9:30 p.m. Die Ordering also requires restaurants to stop offering table service at 9:30 p.m., although they still have the option to offer a snack afterwards. The sale of liquor in restaurants, liquor stores, grocery stores and convenience stores must also stop at 9:30 p.m.
For some restaurateurs, Baker’s new rules are a drop in the ocean compared to other factors – including Friday’s snow storm.
“I’m excited to see who will get this new mask mandate and what help the state will get to survive this winter,” said Ken Oringer, head chef at JK Food Group (Coppa, Toro and Little Donkey), said Boston.com.
Jamie Bissonnette, also head chef at JK Food Group, repeated this feeling.
“The weather made that call before it actually did,” said Bisonnette. “What I would love if he addressed repeated requests for financial aid from Massachusetts Restaurants United.”
Shortly after the governor’s press conference, Massachusetts Restaurants United, a coalition of independent restaurant professionals campaigning for state relief, made their own statement.
“These new curfews will continue to hinder the survival of our small businesses, but the safety of our guests, employees and communities has always been of paramount importance,” the group said in a press release. “That’s why it’s so important that the state pass the Economic Development Act, set up a Distressed Restaurant Fund, and limit predatory third party delivery charges. … Winter is coming, restaurants are closing every day and we have been waiting since August for our legislators to pass an economic development law that provides much-needed support for restaurants in need. We urge the MA legislation to pass this law now. “
Jack Bardy, partner at Wildlife Hospitality Group (Cósmica, Beat Brew Hall, and The Beehive) agreed that while security is of the essence, the new curfew would force restaurants to end table seats much earlier.
“I acknowledge that the new closing mandate was issued by Governor Baker at 9:30 pm in the best interests of the health and safety of our community,” said Bardy. “But this is undoubtedly another blow to the restaurant world. The mandate essentially means finishing seating around 8:00 p.m. so people can dine and go out until 9:30 p.m. We will continue to adapt and be as nimble as possible to get out of the pandemic. We will open our restaurants earlier and encourage guests to start earlier. “
Perhaps Andrew Li, owner of Flora’s West Newton Wine Bar, put it best: “This is just another kick while we’re downstairs.”
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