Restaurant owners urge Gov. Raimondo not to shut them down as COVID-19 cases climb

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Restaurant owners in Rhode Island are urging Governor Gina Raimondo to not shut them down as coronavirus cases continue to climb in the state.

Raimondo is expected to announce new restrictions during her weekly press conference on Thursday, and restaurant owners have teamed up by signing off on a letter to ask that she keep them open.

“As of right now, over 100 restaurants have signed on to the letter that are really saying to the Governor, please do not shut us down. We cannot endure another shutdown,” said Rick Simone on behalf of the Ocean State Coalition.

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“We’ve proven that restaurants are a safe environment. The Governor herself has said that, the Department of Health has said that,” Simone said. “At this point, no one knows for sure what she’s gonna say at 1 o’clock tomorrow, but there is a lot of panic out there right now.”

One of those worried restaurant owners is Edward Brady, owner of The Thirsty Beaver with locations in Cranston, Smithfield and Wrentham, Mass., and Huck’s Filling Station in East Greenwich.

“We’re battered, we’re bruised, we’re struggling for survival. We’re all scared, you know, we feel like we’re not involved in the conversation.”

Brady has already had to shut down one of his restaurants, Milk Money, in Providence.

“We’re scared. There’s not much more we can do. We’re all in survival mode at this point. I stand here with the rest of our small business community in asking, begging, pleading for help.”

He’s worried about what more restrictions would do to business. He said, if another lockdown is in our future, the industry will need more help from Governor Raimondo.

“We’re desperately asking, if a lockdown is in fact gonna come, based on the rise of numbers, that she has to release the Cares Act funds which we’ve had since March to make sure us businesses can obviously survive through these tough times and pay rent and pay fixed costs.”

Brady signed on to the letter. The coalition is hoping it gets the Governor’s attention.

“This could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” Simone said of another shutdown. “We could be in a very bad position going into the holidays, having thousands of people laid off, and restaurants that have to close permanently. This is not the time of year for us to get through this.

“We’re asking the Governor to trust the restaurants. We spend thousands of dollars in PPE, plexiglass, retraining our staffs, then we’ve gone even a step further and got our guests’ confidence back. Right now we need her to trust us and trust the guests that we can get through this.”

Raimondo will speak Thursday at 1 p.m. Click here to watch.

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Categories: Coronavirus, Cranston, News, Providence, Regional News, Rhode Island