The hospitality industry asks Lamont for an indoor catering service as of June 3

More than 130 Connecticut business owners and hospitality industry associations have signed a letter asking Governor Ned Lamont to allow restaurants to offer limited domestic service starting June 3.

The letter, written by Connecticut Restaurant Association executive director Scott Dolch, asks the Lamont administration to allow restaurants to resume indoor service at 50% capacity from June 3, two weeks after that they will be cleared to open for the outdoor catering service.

Scott Dolch, Executive Director, Connecticut Restaurant Association

“We understand the public health issues, but you also need to understand the economic impact of each day having to stay closed,” said Dolch, who supported the advice of public health officials, in an interview Thursday morning.

Since Lamont ordered restaurants to suspend table service in March, allowing only curbside and take-out service, restaurants across the state have suffered a heavy blow, with at least 40 owners claiming that the closure had taken them out of service permanently, Dolch said.

A text message sent to a Lamont spokesperson asking for comment was not immediately returned.

The governor has taken steps to give restaurants more leeway amid restrictions put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Lamont’s plan to reopen on May 20 allows restaurants to serve food at tables set up on patios or sidewalks. This week, he signed an executive order that allows towns and cities to speed up zoning changes or ordinances for small businesses looking to expand their activities outdoors.

But restaurateurs and industry officials said the measures were not enough to keep their businesses afloat

Andrew Rizzo, managing partner at Italian restaurant and wine bar Hartford Salute, said last week his restaurant would not reopen for outside service because it would not be able to serve enough customers to make it financially viable.

Also, Dolch said, authorizing the field service does not factor in costs such as purchasing outdoor furniture and paying staff on days when the weather precludes field service.

[Read more: What eating in a restaurant may look like during the pandemic]

A June 3 opening date for indoor services would give restaurants time to train their employees on the enhanced hygiene measures required, Dolch said.

The letter says other businesses will be able to open for partial domestic service on May 20, and restaurants may offer a similar level of security.

“We believe it is possible to eat indoors in a limited and safe way,” the letter said. “Like shopping malls, hair salons and the like are allowed to gradually start indoor service, as it should be, it makes sense that restaurants are also allowed limited indoor service. “

The letter described other security measures that the signatories pledged to apply, including:

  • Limited overall restaurant capacity (50% at the start) to allow increased distance between tables
  • Absolutely no physical contact with staff
  • No standing room or bar
  • Added use of gloves and masks
  • More intensive cleaning between interactions with customers
  • Implement new technology for menus and payment to allow less indirect contact
  • Eliminate shared-use table sides (menus, condiments, etc.)
  • Encourage seniors and those with pre-existing conditions not to dine indoors and continue to provide strong take-out and curbside options for all customers

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