Restaurants: Greater capacity makes no difference with distancing requirements

New York News

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — On Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced what he called a major reopening of New York. Starting May 19, the state will lift most capacity restrictions.

Cuomo says businesses must still maintain social distancing rules: “We do err on the side of safety. The CDC keeps the six-foot social distancing requirement and that is still in effect. So our capacity restrictions are subject to the six feet.”

Because of this, some business owners say the lifted capacity restrictions mean nothing to them. “People will call me on the phone and say, ‘Well, isn’t your capacity increased?’ and I’m like, ‘No, it’s not.’ Our capacity isn’t increased at all because of the 6-foot rule,” said Jason Hall, owner of Sportsmen’s Tavern and the Cave.

Sportsmen’s Tavern currently operates at 27% capacity. Hall says that will have to remain despite the lifted restriction due to the size of the music venue. “You’re not making any money in any business when you’re operating at 27%,” he said.

Paul Santora, owner of Santora’s Pizza Pub and Grill, says that, in order to increase capacity at his restaurants, he would need to purchase plastic dividers.

“How anybody could assume that keeping a table or a guest six feet apart in increasing capacity helps, it really does not. It doesn’t do anything for us unless you’re willing to spend money and I don’t think anybody at this time has the money to spend.”

While these owners might say the guidance won’t impact them, like lifting curfews and food-with-alcohol requirements will benefit their businesses.

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