Local owners and managers had mixed reactions this week to the governor’s decision to relax the curfew on restaurants.
On Monday, Gov. Ned Lamont announced he would be relaxing coronavirus restrictions for restaurants, extending the current 9:30 p.m. curfew to 11 p.m.
Citing a downward trend in the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths and an increase in vaccinations, Lamont said he thinks as long as everyone is cautious, the new curfew will help the state get back to normal.
“Our (COVID) rates are down, it allows us to do it,” Lamont said in his daily COVID briefing on Monday. “I think restaurants particularly have operated professionally, doing everything they could to keep us safe.”
Before the pandemic, Archie Moore’s in Wallingford was normally a place for other restaurant employees to go for food and drinks after their shifts ended. The 9:30 curfew changed that, according to manager Paul Norton.
“It affected us pretty strongly,” he said. “We had a decent amount of revenue between 9:30 and midnight. We were down about 15-20 percent because of it.”
Tuesday was the first night the restaurant would be able to stay open until 11 and Norton was optimistic.
“Customers are still tentative about coming out, but I think the extra hour will definitely help us,” Norton said.
As of Feb. 1, Connecticut’s COVID’s positivity rate was 4.36 percent, according to the state’s website.
Other restaurants like Gaetano’s Tavern on Main are not completely sure they want to be open later.
“The 9:30 curfew was working well for us,” co-owner Cheryl Milot said. “Whether it will be worth it or not, I don’t know. There aren’t many people coming out to order food after 9-9:30 p.m.”
The only benefit of the extended curfew will be not having to tell customers to leave right at 9:30, Milot added. She isn’t sure Gaetano’s will stay open until 11 p.m., but likes that restaurants now have the option.
Hop Haus, 28 W. Main St. in Southington, was normally open until midnight or later before the pandemic. A Hop Haus manager said the previous curfew, which was started in early November as COVID-19 cases spiked, hurt the business.
“To have to kick out a full restaurant at 9:30 has definitely impacted business,” manager Katie Kennedy said. “It’s definitely not back to completely normal and that’s what we’ve been hoping for, but the 11 p.m. curfew is definitely better than 9:30 p.m.”
Lamont said it will take longer to lift the curfew completely. But he is encouraged by the state’s high rate of vaccinations.
“Connecticut remains number three nationally,” Lamont said about vaccinations. “Good news is we have already administered 425,000 doses. We did 111,000 doses in the last week alone. We are ramping up.”