ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — This week, New York State will dial back several state-imposed restrictions on restaurants and other businesses.
The restrictions, initially put in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, will soon be lifted in large part, with the state lifting its curfew on outdoor dining Monday, May 17.
On Wednesday, May 19, there will be no more capacity limitations on not just restaurants, but gyms, barbershops, museums, amusement parks, and several other previously-restricted businesses.
The limitation for businesses, according to the state: the space necessary to maintain a six-foot social distancing requirement.
The restrictions lifted is a sigh of relief for restaurant owners – and restaurant-goers, like Tom and Beth Henderson Sunday, out to dinner, outdoors, on a lively Park Avenue evening.
“We’ve been fully vaccinated, of course,” said Tom, “and it just feels great.”
With restrictions lifted, restaurants will still face one lingering uphill battle: staffing.
“We look forward to the summer season,” said Jeffrey Scott, owner of Kainos restaurant, who told News 8 his restaurant is struggling to hire employees. “This year we’re scared of the summer season.”
Scott is glad the restrictions will soon be gone, but notes restaurants are still facing widespread staffing issues that could limit their ability to serve customers, even with restrictions gone.
“They’re lifting the restrictions, which is all well and good, but restaurants are having to restrict themselves,” Scott added. “And even tonight, having to pass up 4 or 5 tables to say, no we can’t serve you because we’re so short staffed and for that time period we can’t wait on you.”
A few weeks later, the state plans to lift its indoor dining curfew on May 31.
The City of Rochester will be holding a virtual town hall for local restaurants to talk about easing restrictions and plans to “Jump start” the economy. The town hall will be on zoom at 2 p.m. on Monday and can be found here.