BOSTON (CBS) – At midnight on Friday morning, Governor Baker’s new rules to stop the spread of COVID-19 go into effect. One of the new rules is that all table service at restaurants is to stop at 9:30 p.m. to allow people time to get home for the 10 p.m. at home advisory.
“We could see more layoffs as a result of this,” said Chris Coombs, the Chef and Owner of Boston Urban Hospitality, which includes fine dining restaurants Boston Chops and Deuxave.
A group of local restaurateurs sent a letter to Governor Baker Thursday asking him to reconsider the new restrictions. The unofficial curfew, Baker said, is to encourage people to go to their own homes by 10 p.m.
But a 9:30 close time will be catastrophic for restaurants, according to Bob Luz of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association. “For the order to be followed, we would be unable to seat a guest after 8:00 p.m., and presents us with the difficult prospect of rushing our guests out the door to comply with the Advisory issued by this Administration. Restaurants are not operated like banks or shops, where there is a set closing time, allotted service schedule, and customers ushered out the door,” the note explained.
“It’s going to hurt,” said Nia Grace, who owns Darryl’s Corner Kitchen and Bar in Boston’s South End. Grace explained that restaurants would need to seat their last reservations before 8 p.m. to get people out the door in time, which would make them lose one to two table turns and lots of revenue.
Add in the fact that after this weekend, patio seating will be less popular as the weather gets cold. “So the 1-2 punch of losing [on the patio] 32 seats combined with now we have to close down earlier…it’s really tough,” Chris Coombs told WBZ as he stood on his patio at Deuxave restaurant in Boston’s Back Bay.
Restaurateurs tell WBZ they feel the Governor’s guidance is misguided, and believe that people will still continue to have unmasked private parties, which the Baker Administration has pointed to as the number one contributor to COVID-19 spread in the state.
“Ultimately people who want to be up until midnight or 2 a.m., they’re going to do it whether it’s a safe space or not,” Coombs said. With the regulations restaurants follow, he said, “I really just feel like restaurants are the safest social place for people to be at this time.”
In the letter to Governor Baker’s administration, restaurateurs asked for the advisory to be reconsidered altogether, but alternatively, for the curfew to be extended by one hour on the weekends, to allow the restaurants to make money at their most popular times.
“We need to offer hope to an industry that received eight weeks of federal relief for a problem that is now going into its eighth month of existence. With no sign of grant funding available exclusively for restaurants, operators have to do everything they can to survive winter,” the letter to Governor Baker read.