Boston’s restaurant industry faces restrictions with mixed feelings on May 29

By Saturday, May 29, Massachusetts will remove all remaining COVID-19 restrictions, Which also includes an order to cover its face. The restaurant will no longer be required to place tables at a distance of 6 feet, remove whatever capacity cap still exists, and the party size and reservation time limits will be canceled.

Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration advised masks and socially spaced people to remain vaccinated in most situations, but there would be no official guidelines for such behavior. An honor system would be implemented where the (temporary) law once existed, meaning restaurants would be free to operate the way they did before the pandemic. If operators of a particular restaurant want to keep masks mandatory for their dining rooms, or continue to enforce social-distancing rules, they are free to do so.

Eater communicated with more than a dozen Boston-area restaurant operators and workers, and, unsurprisingly, received more than a dozen different impressions about the state’s decision to lift the remaining pandemic restrictions. Some pre-pandemics are ready to revert to some version of normal, while others prefer a slow transition, whether it involves masking everyone or just employees. (One compared the sudden change “Frog in Boiling Water” Fable.)

Anthony Caldwell, chef and owner of 50 kitchens in Dorchester, says he is nervous about lifting the mask mandate because it allows people who have not been vaccinated to behave in a way they don’t think is safe.

“It creates an honor system, and we know that there are a lot of people who are not honest,” Caldwell says. He says he is terrified of another surge in infection and plans to maintain a number of epidemiological guidelines, including a 90-minute feeding limit.

sauce, Likewise, is meeting the need for masks for employees as well as customers at their locations in downtown Boston and Somerville Bow Market, according to co-owner Tanya Walker. The Somerville location will not re-open indoor food yet. Instead, the restaurant is taking full advantage of the availability of outdoor seating at Bow Market, and everything will be served on the go. In Boston, Sauce plans to take a buffer week before bringing indoor food back to see how the area – amidst the city’s office closures during the epidemic – comes back to life. Customers will be allowed to remove masks only when they sit. “Our employees are still not 100 percent vaccinated, so their safety is our priority,” Walker says. “We have spoken to our team and provided resources to help them get hired. We are paying sick time to get COVID shots. ”

As conditions change the Saus team will revisit their plan weekly; Walker does not yet have a timeline for eliminating the need for masks.

“We will take the opinion of the entire team in the decision-making process,” Walker says. “If one person is not comfortable, we will not relax the requirements.”

Allie Coppola is the bartender here brick mortar in Cambridge. She says she is excited to be working in a bar full of people again – a vibe she has long missed – but admits that if the state adopts a slower, more cautious approach to reopening Likes “My preference is that people still wear masks when talking to servers and bartenders,” Coppola says. “It’s almost a sign of respect at this point.” Coppola also says she will miss the 90-minute reservation limit because it was something she and other hospitality workers could control over the course of a year that was otherwise out of control.

Hummer Miranda, who bartends at Brick & Mortar, says he and other staff members he spoke with felt comfortable going back to work amid lifting restrictions because they are all vaccinated. Still, he feels it would have been smart for the state to hold on to the mask mandate a little longer. “Everyone is already so used to it, so why not just continue wearing masks until everyone is comfortable, at least at first?”

Brick & Mortar owner Gary Strak says he won’t require customers to wear masks once the mandate ends, but he does need to vaccinate everyone on his staff; Employees can choose to wear masks if they wish. Since the bar reopened about two months ago, Streck says his bartenders haven’t been much pushy about the mask mandate, mostly because the restaurant has nipped such issues in the bud on the door. The system is installed.

However, on occasions when pushed, “the question you ask is ‘Are these people really ignorant of the restrictions, or are they doing what they want to do?'” Streck says Huh. “People will show up with a group of 10 and they will be shocked when we told them they can’t all sit together.”

Now that the guidelines are being removed, Streak is excited to implement some of the changes made to brick and mortar over the past few months. He says it won’t be a standing room-only spot, with six deep people standing in the bar. He plans to maintain some degree of distance, which he thinks will allow his bar staff to better connect with customers. Streak is also happy that he and his staff no longer have to implement the guideline. “For everyone in the industry, the concept of being a cop is the opposite of hospitality.”

Streak’s feelings were echoed by Ghirouchi Owner Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli. “From an operational standpoint, the most challenging thing about the guidelines is that they caused tension between hospitality workers and guests,” he says. “Hospitality was to act outside the realm of hospitality, and it has been very uncomfortable.”

Schlesinger-Guidelli says that “Enforcement fatigue“Has taken an emotional toll on his employees. He says that with every new guideline, he and his staff were trying to pinpoint the needle between hospitality and keeping everyone safe. He must have given his staff at least 15 June. Till plans to allow customers to go without masks, with the need to continue wearing masks when the state of emergency is about to expire.

Cushman Concept In Restaurant Hey yeah, hojoko, And biancaEmployees will also remain masked until at least 15 June, at which time a decision will be taken whether to extend that policy. “Although most of our employees have been vaccinated, Baker’s announcement of the removal of all restrictions came as a shock to our employees,” says Events and Marketing Manager Stephen Martino. “It’s about making sure our people still feel comfortable coming to work, whether they chose to get vaccinated or not.”

“With staffing levels at its lowest level, it’s hard not to see the incoming tidal wave of eager guests with mixed feelings,” he says. “Yes, we are very excited to bring people back. But after working under these conditions for more than a year, we cannot just open the doors and pretend that it is 2019 again. Its Many restaurant workers are exhausted physically and mentally as a result. “

Martino says employees will need time to adjust. “We are asking guests to be kind and patient with us, while we overcome the many hardships that come from the epidemic, the difficulties that will overcome state restrictions.”

Kate Smith, who operates Thistle and leek Along with her husband Trevor in Newton, she says the restaurant plans to follow orders from the new state and the CDC and won’t require diners to wear masks, though they are welcome to do so if they wish . However, thistle and leek employees will continue to wear masks for now. “We are delighted that we are moving towards normal for the good of our guests and our team,” says Smith.

somervilles daddy jones, On the other hand, will not require employees – who have all been vaccinated – to wear masks, says owner Dimitra Murphy, but the restaurant is not yet reopening for indoor meals. “We relied on closing science, and now we have to rely on science to reopen,” Murphy says. In addition to phasing out all dining, Daddy Jones also sees less interaction between customers and employees than in pre-pandemic times, thanks to a switch to online ordering; It is now essentially a counter-service restaurant.

For Katie Daly, who manages Renegade Pub Saturday in East Boston is cause for concern. The Renegade is open to the vast majority of the pandemic, and Daly has had to play masked promoter for most of that time.

“There was an air of anger in the customers because they had been trapped inside for so long,” Daly says. “I had to apply [the mask mandate], And this annoyed a lot of people. “And that was when the mandate was still in place.” Now I can’t say much. Don’t get into someone else’s private space, and don’t get mad at me for not wanting to take off my mask. ”

Daly thinks the lifting of restrictions was sudden and he fears that once people are not mandated by the state to behave a certain way with respect to masking, they are going to do whatever they want. She will continue to wear the mask until she feels comfortable taking it off, whenever it is.

Additional reporting by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

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