Local restaurants are greeting Gov. Baker’s loosening of coronavirus restrictions with careful optimism.
Starting Monday, the rules allow patrons to sit directly at a restaurant’s bar — instead of just at high-top tables near the bar — provided they order food.
“I think it's encouraging that times are trending in the right direction,” said Bryce Guilbeault, general manager at Brew Fish in Marion.
Parties at the bar must be spaced six feet apart.
Guilbeault said liquor sales normally account for about 80 percent of the business at Brew Fish.
“And right now it's food [that’s] carrying us,” he said. “We've had a pretty good summer, but I think it's encouraging as we get into the fall.”
If an employee works within six feet behind the bar, restaurants have to install some kind of barrier, such as plexiglass, with no more than eight inches of space underneath to pass food and drinks.
And with social distancing, bars will have reduced seating.
At Way Ho in Buzzards Bay, the small bar normally seats four.
Owner Benny Chu said he’ll only be able to seat two people, but he’s glad to see things opening up.
“I am happy for them, for all the business,” he said.
Restaurants will also be allowed to seat up to 10 people at a table, instead of the previous six.
“Getting back to normal, you know — that’s for the best,” he said.
Baker’s order does not allow the reopening of bars without food service. Right now, they are scheduled to reopen in Phase 4 of the state plan, after a vaccine for COVID-19 becomes available.