COVID-19 Connecticut Restaurants: Phase 1 Opening Procedures Have Begun

open sign uk restaurant
Credit: Stan B.

For many independent restauranteurs who depend on their business as a sole source of income, it has been the longest two months of their lives. Beginning Wednesday, May 20th, 2020 Phase 1 of Governor Lamont’s “Reopen Connecticut” plan will allow CT restaurants to reopen.

This is as long as they remain in accordance with the new safety protocols. These protocols are designed to allow businesses to reopen while still keeping citizens safe from the virus. 

COVID-19 Phase 1 Reopening

Phase 1 protocol allows restaurants to reopen provided that they do several things. These things are as follows: 

  1. Guests are limited to outside seating. Tables need to be 6 feet apart and individual parties are limited to 5 people or less.
  2. The total capacity limit for restaurants is 50% of their normal, pre-pandemic capacity. Employees are responsible for keeping track of capacity and ensuring capacity limits are enforced.
  3. Restaurants must follow cleaning and disinfection protocols listed in the “reopen Connecticut” plan. For employee training, a specific cleaning/disinfecting protocol has been developed and disseminated to business owners. The training protocol also mandates that onsite refresher courses on the cleaning protocol take place at least once per week. Prior to reopening, restaurants are required to complete a deep clean of their entire facility.
  4. Employee shift times and break times are to be staggered to minimize contact between employees and a log of employees and shifts is to be maintained to support contact tracking over time.
  5. Employees and patrons are required to wear PPE (face masks) at all times.

More information from Governor Lamont can be here.

We spoke to several business owners to get a first-hand account of their opinions about the reopening.

Filomena's italian restaurant connecticut front
Credit: Filomena’s Restaurant and Private Dining

Filomena’s Restaurant and Private Dining Gets Creative

Filomena’s Restaurant and Private Dining is a restaurant and bar serving regional food with Italian undertones. The restaurant has been operating solely off of revenue from takeout orders due to regulations put in place as a result of COVID-19. That is until most recently.

“Educating myself as well as our staff on the reopening guidelines and procedures was crucial. The local community has been a tremendous source of support for the Filomena’s family. In return, we want to provide the safest and most quality dining experience possible. This was an opportunity to get creative with the adjustments we had to make,” says owner Mike Buscetto.

He adds, “We were able to move our dining tables to our parking lot, giving patrons plenty of space to enjoy their meals, and purchased a large tent in the event of inclement weather. Indoors, we have installed plexiglass separating patrons from the front desk hosts. Patrons are well-protected when they come to pick up their takeout orders. Plexiglass has also been installed in our indoor bar area as a proactive measure. Our servers wear masks and gloves. They now also use wheeled carts to deliver food and clear dishes to people seated outdoors.”

“The way restaurants are being run is evolving. It’s uplifting to see people coming out to support local restaurants and being so receptive to all of these changes.”

Sunset Grille at the Crestbrook Golf Course is Ready to See Their Friends Again

Steve Martino, owner of Sunset Grille at the Crestbrook Golf Course in Watertown, told us he could not be happier to reopen his business. “It was a long time coming, and it was a tough month. Our staff took all the training classes for the new safety requirements. We also changed our menu to add seasonal summer dishes, and finished the new deck add-on that we started two weeks ago to create more seating outside. We are really excited to see all our friends again.”

1754 House Restaurant and Tavern Coming Back to What They Do Best

Michael Bates Walsh, owner of Woodbury CT’s 1754 House Restaurant and Tavern, had this to say about the reopening: “We are all looking forward to being able to do what we do best again: serving guests, making food, taking care of people. Mostly we are excited for COVID going away and beating this and starting to be able to serve again. First, outside in a limited capacity, but eventually inside as well at full capacity again.”

Safety First: Home May Still Be The Best Option for Some

As ready as restauranteurs and patrons alike are for the reopen, safety is always the first priority. For those over 65 or with an underlying health condition, Governor Lamont is still recommending those at a higher risk for contracting the virus play it safe and stay at home.