By Christina Hager

MALDEN (CBS) – Pull up a seat at the bar. New loosened guidelines are now officially in effect for Massachusetts restaurants. Not only can they seat customers at bars now, the new rule also applies to countertops like the one at the 50’s-style Doo Wop Diner in Malden.

“They keep asking every time they come in here, when are we going to sit at the counter?” owner Larry Williams said. He calls it a lifeline. “It made the difference enough that I could say to myself, I’m going to make it,” he said.

Larry Williams installs acrylic barrier on countertop at Doo Wop Diner in Malden. (WBZ-TV)

While Williams installed new acrylic shields at the diner Monday, some other restaurant managers said they’re not opening their bars because the acrylic is too expensive and hard to find. “The price has gone up probably about 15-20% across the board,” said Paul Wenzel, who owns P & K Custom Acrylics. “Some of my suppliers are still telling me that lead times are two to three months out for specific materials,” he said. Fortunately, he stocked up on them ahead of time, and has plenty available now.

Also in effect Monday, the state’s newly-eased limit on the number of guests at tables from six to ten. “We do have a lot of customers who do come in large parties,” said Tim Burke, who owns In a Pickle Restaurant. “Anything that’s getting closer to where we used to be is where we want to go.”

Not all cities are going ahead with the looser guidelines. Boston, Worcester, and Framingham are holding off, because their virus rates are higher.

Christina Hager