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COVID-19: School Vaccine Clinics Set; Can Outdoor Dining Be Saved?

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Jennette Barnes
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CAI
Americana Cafe in Wareham has several tables for outdoor dining. Restaurants that were granted permits for extra outdoor tables during the pandemic could lose them in mid August, but some legislators are seeking an extension.

The easing of COVID-19 restrictions is supposed to be good news, but for restaurants, it could mean the loss of expanded outdoor seating, just when they’re trying to recover from the pandemic.

Governor Charlie Baker plans to rescind the state of emergency June 15, setting in motion a 60-day grace period in which legal authority for extra seating can continue. It will expire in mid August, at the height of the Cape and Islands travel season.

Cape and Islands Senator Julian Cyr said legislators have filed several budget amendments to try to prevent that loss.

“That basically creates a bit of a cliff for August ... where restaurants and other folks have to be scrambling to, I guess, move tables to comply,” he said. “That's just not right.”

Also set to expire, on June 15 with the lifting of the emergency order, is restaurants’ ability to serve takeout cocktails.

Cyr said the state is looking at a variety of executive orders issued during the pandemic, to see how they might inform policy going forward.

Some things, such as remote participation in meetings, could become permanent changes.

Meanwhile, a growing list of Cape Cod schools are working with Barnstable County to hold COVID-19 vaccination clinics at school.

County health director Sean O’Brien said his office has worked with the schools before, on other vaccines.

“So our goal is to work directly with that school district and provide folks that can go out and do those vaccinations,” he said.

County public health nurse Deirdre Arvidson said clinics are scheduled at 10 middle and high schools around the Cape through June 3.

They include Monomoy, Nauset, and Dennis-Yarmouth regional high schools, the Cape Cod and Upper Cape technical schools, the Falmouth middle and high schools, Bourne Middle School, and, tentatively, Barnstable High School.

Pfizer vaccines are available for ages 12 and up. Parents and school staff who haven’t been vaccinated are welcome as well.

With summer right around the corner, the Cape’s COVID-19 task force is asking summer travelers to pack masks — and patience.

“I think the most important thing is, we're just meeting people where they are,” said Cyr, the spokesman for the task force.

He said it’s still reasonable for businesses to require masks, and he asked for kindness toward people who choose to wear a mask where it’s not required.

“If there's someone who … a month from now, is deciding they want to wear a mask when they go into the grocery store, that's fine,” he said.

Many businesses are having trouble finding enough summer help. Cyr said it could also take a little longer to get the lobster roll or ice cream cone beloved by locals and tourists alike.

That’s where the patience comes in, he said.