BOSTON — Retail and restaurant owners are hurrying to prepare to welcome customers back into their businesses following Governor Charlie Baker’s announcement Saturday afternoon.
On Monday, restaurants can reopen for outdoor dining only, and retail stores can reopen to customers so long as they adhere to multiple guidelines.
“We are excited, but also a little nervous, we just want to make sure everybody is safe and feels comfortable,” said Jennifer Bernard, owner of Plymouth Harbor Knits. “We’re doing our best to review the guidelines and make plans, and we’ll have to do some staff training, so it’s a lot, but it’s very exciting.”
According to the governor’s guidelines, retail stores must limit occupancy at all times to eight people (including store staff) per 1,000 square feet of indoor space, or to 40% of the retail store’s maximum permitted occupancy.
They’re encouraged to use contactless payment options and they must require staff and customers to wear masks.
Stores must also provide hand-washing areas or hand sanitizer for customers.
“We’ve moved some things around and eliminated tables to make more space on the floor,” said Paul Bernard, Business Manager at Plymouth Harbor Knits. “We’ve put markings on the floor to give some six feet distances for the customers. We have a series of signs on the door that shows they have to wear a mask, that we’re open, and that we want them to wash their hands before they come in.”
In addition to retail stores, restaurants are also scrambling to prepare for Monday’s reopening.
“I have to bring product in, I have to schedule people that I’m actually asking to have faith in me to come off unemployment,” said Cabby Brini, owner of The Cabby Shack. “I just don’t understand why we’re always left in the dark, always trying to figure out what we’re going to do at the last minute.”
With two floors of outdoor seating, Brini’s restaurant is well-equipped to handle the Phase 2 guidelines, but he worries about some fellow restaurant owners who don’t have outdoor options. “I am one of the fortunate ones, I am going to be okay,” Brini said. “I’m heartbroken, I have friends that aren’t going to make it through this.”
According to the governor’s guidelines, in addition to outdoor-only seating, tables must be six feet apart with no more than six guests per table.
Masks must be worn when walking throughout the restaurant, but they can be taken off when seated.
With all the precautions in place, owners are hoping customers don’t shy away.
“We’re looking forward to really seeing them [the customers],” said Paul Bernard. “We can’t wait for them to come in the shop.”
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