Restaurants already struggling to stay afloat due to the COVID-19 outbreak have a new challenge rapidly approaching as the weather begins shifting, limiting outdoor dining options.
The pandemic forced extreme restrictions on restaurants and bars for the past six months, with many scrambling to arrange temporary, and now possibly permanent outdoor dining options, while even more were forced to shut down for good due to a lack of business.
Since mid-March, occupancy at restaurants has been restricted, face coverings must be worn by patrons and staff, social distancing must be practiced at all times, and there is no congregating at bars.
Patrons were limited to how large their party could be while dining, and tables were situated at least six feet apart from each other.
With the restrictions in place, restauranteurs then largely transitioned to outdoor service over the spring and summer, though that may soon be limited due to temperatures dropping.
Currently, indoor dining is largely limited to 50 percent capacity with the restrictions in place in the region.
Some restaurants have added heating systems or new HVAC units to supplement their outdoor dining areas and tents to knock down the wind while still providing ventilation to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Others are adding enhancements to ensure that patrons are comfortable while eating their meals, such as dividers or shrubbery to block the wind or chairs that will retain more. heat. Some restauranteurs even plan to offer blankets that are laundered between each use.
There will be new meals and cocktails designed to warm up patrons during their meal, at least one restaurant owner said, and that transition to a fall menu may happen sooner than it would have in a normal year.
Luca Di Pietro, Founder of Tarallucci e Vino in New York City said, “the onset of winter makes it essential for restaurant staff to continue to earn income from indoor dining, and new state guidance will make sure workers and guests are safe as the industry tries to survive in the midst of this pandemic."
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