Central Falls restaurants and bars hit hard by new restrictions

CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. (WLNE) – Restaurants and bars in Central Falls are taking a huge hit after Mayor James Diossa halted in-person dining, limiting only take-out and delivery options.

Central Falls’ rate of new COVID-19 cases doubles the state’s average. Data collected by the Rhode Island Department of Health and the Central Falls Office of Health shows that the rate of new cases in Central Falls climbed to 729 cases per 100,000 per week since November 11.

However, businesses are devastated, many wondering how they’ll continue on after another financial setback.

Businesses like La Casona Restaurant and Bakery are still hurting from April and are now forced to shut its doors once again.

“We closed for like two to three months. I remember it was in April,” Xiomara Zevallos said. “They said it was going to be two weeks and then it was a month and then it was two months.”

Luckily, the bakery can stay open, keeping Zevallos’ job safe for now, but others are left figuring out what’s next.

“Our waitresses and waiters have to be laid off,” Zevallos said. “They have to stay home. A lot of people that do work here are going to have to be laid off.”

Restaurant and bar owners in the community say they’re frustrated, angry and scared for the future. Some say they don’t agree it will help.

“Someone might be closed, but then a restaurant in Providence is open, so everyone is just going to go there instead of coming here,” Zevallos said. “That’s bad for our business.”

Central Falls is the first city to make the call as COVID-19 cases skyrocket. Mayor James Diossa says he stands by his decision even though he knows it’s not a popular one.

“We’re seeing this number spike and it’s getting a little scary,” Mayor Diossa said. “Not many of our families have the ability to work from home; people live in apartments with extended family. This is one square mile that’s incredibly dense with over 20,000 people living in this square mile.”

He says for the most part, businesses have been complying, but restaurants and bars are the one place people have to take their masks off to eat or drink. He hopes other communities will follow in suit.

“The whole state is seeing this spike,” Mayor Diossa said. “We have to take an immediate step and I hope other communities realize that.”

The Executive Order also limits City Hall access and appointments.

The restriction will last from November 19 through November 30.  Restaurants are encouraged to provide take-out or delivery options for customers, in accordance with social distancing protocols set forth by the Rhode Island Department of Health and the CDC.

The orders will be enforced by the Central Falls Police Department.

We also reached out to Mayor-Elect Maria Rivera who is set to take over Mayor Diossa’s position in January. In a statement she said, “Our restaurants are the backbone of our city and I know that Mayor Diossa waited as long as he could, in consultation with the Office on Health and the RI Department of Health. However, COVID-19 is spreading at unprecedented rates in Central Falls right now. Hopefully, this two-week pause is all that we need. In the meantime, I urge affected business owners to apply for Restore RI relief funds and resources through Commerce RI for help getting through this difficult time.”

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Rhode Island