Local restaurants adjust to new phase 3 guidelines

Virginia Politics

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — As of Wednesday Virginia is in phase 3 of reopening the economy. This means restaurants return to operating at full capacity, with social distancing requirements.

But the governor added one change: the bar seating is still not allowed.

At Waterside, the doors are open again but things look different.

“The table has been moved. No bar stools are at the bars. There are wagons throughout. Everything has been properly space to protect our guests,” said Jeff Bender, a manager at Waterside.

He and his crew worked all Wednesday morning to get the space ready for customers and staff under the new phase 3 guidelines.

“Everybody has been properly trained and educated on food safety, COVID safety. All team members went through an orientation to understand their roles in protecting themselves and our guests,” he said.

Northam made the announcement that restaurants and bars can be open again but you still cannot sit at the bar.

“Anywhere people have an opportunity to gather and congregate and also be talking to each other, especially in loud settings, the volume goes up the transmission of the virus goes up,” said Northam.

So, places like Waterside have new markers on moving around the bar to get a drink and each table is separated by 6 feet or more 

“Just queuing up things and trying to make signage and just having our bartenders ready to welcome people and direct them and show them how we are going to be able to give them that experience,” said Bender.

He said he still doesn’t expect to see a lot of people because he thinks some are still nervous.

“I’m not upset, I’m just happy to be here. We are happy to have our staff back and happy to have guests back in Waterside.”

But not every restaurant is ready to jump back into open dinning.

“I’d rather wait till phase 5. I don’t need phase 3 right now until I get more results into what’s going on out here,” said Major Mahoney, owner of Gourmet Burger Bistro in Portsmouth.

“It’s not important that I open up too fast. I want to take my time and let everybody else be the test and then from there I’ll see what’s going on and move accordingly,” he said.

His business has a bar and sell alcohol but he is not making that a priority right now.

“We don’t rely on liquor sales. It’s food first. Liquor is a second to us. Always has been. It’s about my bistro family being safe. It’s not about anyone telling us it’s okay to open,” he said.

Major said he’s looking at opening his bar back up in August, September or even October. He said he is in no rush. 

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