Restaurant owners say more space is needed for full reopening


ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)—With Governor Cuomo announcing that starting on May 19th restaurants can open to full capacity, some restaurant owners say it’s not that simple.

The restaurant industry has been hit hard by the pandemic. Many restaurants have had to adapt by offering take out options and reduced seating for customers. New York State will soon be allowing full capacity for those looking to dine in, but there’s a catch.

“I’m excited to see the progress that we’re making,” explained Dominick Purnomo, Director of the New York State Restaurant Association. “Two weeks from tomorrow we are at 100 percent occupancy which is great, however, the fine print is we still have to keep tables 6 feet apart, unless we ask people for proof of vaccination which that is a very slippery slope that I don’t know a lot of us want to walk.”

For some restaurant owners, requiring proof of vaccination is something theyre still trying to figure out.

“We haven’t thought about asking for proof of vaccine yet,” said Patrick Noonan, owner of El Loco.

“We are gonna trust the general public that if they opt to not obey by the mask mandates, there is only so much we can do. We are going to make sure everyone is seated and standing safely. And making sure everyone is in a safe environment until we either add more square footage or the rules change again.”

While 100 percent capacity is going to be allowed, don’t expect things to be back to the way they were before the pandemic, just yet— especially for restaurants with limited space.

“Albany, we have a lot of small places,” explained Noonan. “Not just on Lark Street, but downtown. We are trying our best to figure out where to put people. We still want your take out business, we still need your gift cards. We still need your support. We just ask for your patience.”

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