Restaurants react to Raimondo’s early closing measure

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — Hoping to discourage late-night activities that could contribute to COVID spread, Governor Raimondo has announced restaurants must now close at 10 PM weeknights and 10:30 PM on weekends.

But the governor’s new early closing times are leaving a bitter taste for local restaurants.

“It’s not something that’s easily swallowed by the restaurant community, after all that they’ve done and put into this,” said Rick Simone of the Federal Hill Commerce Association.

Management at Federal Hill restaurants say they’ve already invested a lot in precautions like PPE and plexiglasss, and stand to lose a considerable piece of their business by having to close earlier.

“That extra hour or two hours that we stay open allows us to stay open, to remain in business, and to provide jobs for all our employees,” said Dino DiFante, manager of Trattoria Zooma.

The governor is offering grants of two to 10 thousand dollars, but Simone says that’s just a fraction of what restaurants will lose.

“The overall feeling was of frustration and that it was an insult,” he said.

Some restaurant managers say they recognize the governor’s logic in saying that people let their guard down about COVID safety as the night gets later.

But they argue restaurants that have been diligent about safety don’t deserve to be punished because of the bad apples.

“We’re almost blanketing all of restaurants, the whole industry with one sort of regulation, without taking a look at the individual operations,” said David Strycharz of Pane e Vino Restaurant.

The early closing times are currently set to start Sunday and last two weeks.

Restaurants tell me they hope cases get under control in the mean time, so they can resume normal hours.

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Rhode Island