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Wine Spectator: Restaurants Face Hurdles To Reopening As Covid Cases Climb

July 16, 2020

Just when they thought indoor dining was back, restaurants are being forced to close their doors again. As the number of Covid-19 cases spike in Florida, Texas, California, and many other states, restaurants are grappling with health and safety guidelines that change day to day. Restaurateurs and their staffs are suffering financially while also trying to accommodate the erratically changing rules—from mandatory masks for employees to reduced capacities to outdoor dining only. At the same time, they remain focused on keeping guests and staff safe, which makes the situation ever more challenging.

“We were open as of June 17 for (indoor) dining,” said David Osenbach, wine director of Providence in Los Angeles. “The restaurant in general is pretty well spaced-out, but we still had to take out a little over a quarter of our seating. Then, as of July 1, restaurants in L.A. had to stop indoor seating, and, well, since we don’t have a patio, we had to revert back to doing only take-out. [It’s] a little rough on the staff.”

The change in guidelines for the Golden State came after a dramatic increase in coronavirus cases. Last week, Governor Gavin Newsom ordered bars and indoor dining rooms at restaurants in 27 counties to close for at least three weeks. On Monday, he made the requirement statewide, which means all restaurants and winery tasting rooms will shift operations outdoors, if possible.

Similarly, across the country in New York City, indoor dining was set to resume on July 6, but Mayor Bill de Blasio pulled the plug less than five days beforehand, putting plans for indoor dining on hold indefinitely.

“Spring and summer are generally our busiest seasons,” said Yvette Leeper-Bueno, owner of Vinateria in New York’s Harlem neighborhood. “Even with takeout, delivery and outdoor dining we’re not doing nearly the same amount of business. It’s definitely not sustainable, especially in a city like New York, where we’re losing lots of nights to rain and storms, and before we know it, it’ll be too cold to eat outside.” Wine Spectator has the full story.

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