Restaurants given green light to open outdoor dining spaces May 18

Governor Gina Raimondo announced new guidelines Monday for restaurants to open to outdoor dining on May 18.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Governor Gina Raimondo announced new guidelines Monday for restaurants to open to outdoor dining on May 18.

Outdoor dining restrictions include:

  • seating by reservation only
  • parties can’t exceed 5 people
  • tables must be spaced at least 8 ft apart (or using barriers)
  • no more than 20 tables in outdoor space
  • use of paper/digital menus
  • single-use utensils/condiments
  • self-serve stations prohibited
  • cashless payments encouraged
  • no valet service

In addition to these restrictions, the governor said restaurants will screen customers for symptoms at the door and will collect contact information for contact tracing.

Ric Simone, executive director of the Federal Hill Commerce Association, said of the 54 licensed establishments on Federal Hill, less than a dozen of them are planning to open to outdoor dining next Monday.

“It’s going to come in waves. A lot of restaurants will not be able to participate in this first phase.”

Simone said restaurant owners are struggling to come up with enough personal protective equipment for employees, cleaning supplies, and the funds to pay for single-use items and new menus.

“It is going to be a challenge, and we want people’s expectations to be tempered,” said Simone.

Governor Raimondo has said that restaurant owners need to “get creative” as many spots only have a handful of outdoor seats.

Armando Bisceglia owns Bacco on Federal Hill and did get creative.

He’s transforming a portion of his parking lot into outdoor seating with enough spaces for 16 guests at tables of four.

“Really, we’re just trying to be creative. The governor said be creative last week. I found some friends that can build walls and we just… we’re ready to go. we have to do what we have to do.”

Bisceglia opened Bacco just a month and a half before COVID-19 shut him down. But he said he’s staying positive and will do everything he can to keep everyone safe.

“This is a family business so it’s my entire family…I gotta keep my family safe as much as the patrons as well.”

The Federal Hill Commerce Association is working on a plan to close down sections of Atwells Avenue from Thursdays through Saturdays in Phase Two to allow for restaurants to spill into the street. More information is expected later in the week.

© WLNE-TV 2020

Categories: Coronavirus, News