Some MA business owners want more restrictions lifted sooner

BOSTON — Some Massachusetts business leaders are calling on Governor Charlie Baker to lift COVID-19 restrictions sooner than the August 1 date announced by the state.

Those business owners are worried that people will be taking their business to neighboring states with fewer restrictions this summer. New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Connecticut plan to roll back on a number of pandemic-related restrictions in May.

The latest reopening plan from Massachusetts means little to no changes for many businesses’ operations through the end of July.

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Bars without table service and clubs won’t be allowed to open until then. Restaurants will still be required to space tables six feet apart. The table limits continue as well but will be eased from a maximum of six to 10 people at the end of May.

“To go from six people to 10, it isn’t really that different,” said Steve DiFillippo, owner of Davio’s. “Most of them are often driving in the same car, and we have to tell them they have to be seated at separate tables.”

DiFillippo, a member of the State’s Reopening Advisory Board, has been vocal in sharing his thoughts for the last year on how the state should safely reopen. He believes the plan in Massachusetts to wait until August 1 to lift all COVID-19 restrictions will be crushing for many businesses.

“You look at the data and you’re not getting COVID in restaurants. We’re very frustrated that we’re the ones getting thrown under the bus,” DiFillippo said. “I think August, and the third week of August for Boston, is ridiculous!”

Boston’s full reopening isn’t set to happen until August 22. For businesses across the city, this means an extended loss of tourism.

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“Just give us a chance. Why do we keep having to be more restrictive?” questioned Marty Bloom, co-owner of Burro Bar. “It makes no sense. They’re throwing darts in the air.”

The state is also keeping the 90-minute table limit rule in place for restaurants until August.

Gov. Baker has indicated he could allow for a full reopening sooner than August 1 depending on the progress in Massachusetts. However, he didn’t specify exactly what that progress would need to be.

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