Keep Massachusetts Restaurants Open

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While we understand the Coronavirus is a serious virus, and it is important to take precautions, we as the restaurant community in Massachusetts find ourselves in a detrimental situation. We are in a fight for our livelihoods and find the urgent need to keep our doors open now more than ever. We have watched many small, local businesses close their doors for good due to the restrictions set by Governor Baker, and the rigidity of the constantly-changing rules of the town health departments. While some restrictions are important to the well-being of the public, the inconsistency of such restrictions make it impossible for the restaurants to follow. Additionally, the frequency of these changes have cost family businesses a small fortune to maintain; money that is no longer coming in. These small businesses are not subject to financial bail-outs the way large hotels and airlines are; and we therefore request that we be allowed to work by keeping our doors open for dine-in service, with appropriate restrictions.

Many of the COVID-19 restrictions, such as hand-washing, mask-wearing, and social distancing, are very important to our physical health at this time. Other restrictions, however, seem to be less logical. For example, there is no reason why a restaurant should be forced to stop service at 9:30pm. The public is not at greater risk during the evening hours – a time where restaurants do the majority of their business – than they are during the daytime hours. Additionally, we believe patrons should be allowed to sit at the bar if they are dining. At the bar, there is build-in social distancing, as the bartender cannot stand directly next to the patron to take their order, as they can while doing table service. All the liquor behind the bar is already covered, so there is no great risk of contamination from the patrons at the bar. These are just a few examples of the many restrictions we feel are excessive.

For various reasons, many people are unable to cook for themselves, and depend on the hot meals served by community restaurants. Additionally, during these times of quarantine, speaking with the wait-staff may be their only social interactions for the day. In a time when anxiety and depression is at an all-time high, the lack of interactions may be detrimental to the overall well-being and mental health of our customers, whom we value dearly. Finally, our staff depend on us for a paycheck. One restaurant alone supports dozens of staff members and numerous vendors. By closing the thousands of restaurants in Massachusetts, millions will be impacted. As anyone who has worked in a restaurant knows, you can quickly become like family with the chefs, managers, and front-of-house staff. We are doing our best to take care of each other during these tumultuous times, but we can not do so if our doors are forced closed.

The public is at no greater risk eating at a restaurant than they are while squeezing through the aisles at the grocery store, or shopping at the hardware store. We believe we are just as essential to the community as the supermarkets.

The undersigned therefore ask to keep the restaurants of Massachusetts open for dine-in service, using the appropriate precautions listed on Mass.gov, per the Covid-19 precaution page.