VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Starting Monday, coronavirus restrictions have loosened up slightly in Virginia.
There’s no more overnight curfew, outdoor venues can increase to 25 people, alcohol sales in resutarants can go until midnight, and more.
For months, restrictions surrounding the sale of alcohol have caused hardships for some businesses that rely on those profits. Gov. Ralph Northam’s most recent set of restrictions stopped alcohol sales at 10 p.m.
The easing of restrictions to keep alcohol flowing until midnight helps, but Eric Emerson, the general manager at Waterman’s Surfside Grille in Virginia Beach, says there’s a bigger problem.
“It helps we get two more hours to stay open, but customers can’t sit at the bar and enjoy hanging out with the bartender and having a drink. Until that changes, nothing is getting back to normal… It is a misconception, but the truth is, I can’t pull barstools up to that bar.”
Now, don’t get Emerson wrong, he appreciates two extra hours to do business. But bars themselves are still restricted.
“We are happy everything is going in the right direction, but if you still have to be 6 feet always and you can’t sit next to someone at the bar, and the bartender is making the drinks, and giving them to servers, that’s not solving the problem. Bartenders can’t get back to work and they need to.”
Over in Norfolk, one bar operator says the extra two hours for alcohol sales will have an immediate impact.
“It’s immediately going to bring in some more revenue into our companies,” said Holly Pim, the general manager at two Norfolk Cogans Pizza restaurants and Hank’s Filling Station.
“We are still at a place where people can get together, especially as it is getting nicer outside. Hanks is great where we have our outside environment, and we have opened up our parking lot where we [don’t] have our outside environment.”
For Emerson, fixing the bar and bartender issue is the next big challenge to moving restaurants back to where they were.
“I don’t want to take away from the extra two hours. I’m encouraged we are moving in the right direction, but we need to get an open line of communication, and that takes some real planning. There are solutions, and we need to make them work,” Emerson said.
For Pim, she’s just happy.
“I’m happy this is bringing back our area,” she said.