Restaurant owners react to McKee’s latest mandate

How the new mask and vaccination requirements could impact holiday reservations.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE)- With a new mask mandate going into effect Monday morning requiring masks for all indoor spaces with 250 or more guests regardless of vaccination status, business owners in Federal Hill are getting ready for the next wave of regulations.

While some larger spaces will be left with the responsibility of enforcing mask mandates, majority of small business owners on Federal Hill have a choice: choose between requiring patrons to wear masks or show proof of vaccination.

“Overall, it’s going to be a challenge for people to accept no matter what,” says Rick Simone of the Federal Hill Commerce Association. “Our overarching concern is that we don’t like regulations as a whole. We feel that we’re at this point now with the vaccination rate that businesses and individuals should be able to take things upon themselves. We’ve proven that our small businesses are safe places to go, so our overall concern with these is that we don’t wanna see any other restrictions down the road.”

Despite the low impact to small businesses Monday morning, Simone says additional restrictions place a “burden” on Federal Hill during challenging winter months.

“Small businesses right now don’t need any extra burdens, we’re going into a time of year where it’s traditionally quiet already. Most of the small businesses have been through a tremendous amount at this point. We do understand, however, the Governor’s need and the Health Department’s need to come out with a mandate right now that is going to help alleviate some of the pressures on hospitals.”

For smaller business owners like Armando Bisceglia, owner of Bacco on Atwells, mandates like this one will not change much of their daily practices. After fighting a serious battle with COVID-19 himself, Biscegila says staff at both of his restaurants are fully vaccinated – and remain ready to do “whatever it takes” to stay open and safe.

“It’s very important, for a small business like ours, that we get as many people through the doors as possible. We keep them happy, and healthy, and comfortable and that’s really what we’re trying to accomplish here.”

While cancelled reservations can mean a loss of profits that can be especially damaging during a slow winter season, Bisceglia says he appreciates the consideration of his guests to keep small business open and safe with minimal restrictions. “If you’re not feeling well, stay home, and just don’t make the situation worse.”

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