Baker loosens restrictions on Mass. restaurants


Sarah Lukowski

Tatte Bakery & Cafe

Limits on restaurant capacities in Massachusetts have been lifted now that the state has moved into Phase 3, Step 2.

Restaurants are now allowed to operate at 100% capacity, while still maintaining six feet of space between tables, 90 minute dining time limits and having no more than six people at a table.

“Personally, I am still a little wary of opening restaurants without limits. I completely understand how important it is for small businesses, especially those who were operating at limited occupancy,” said Suffolk student Arbisa Trebicka. “But I think a more gradual opening would have been better to make both businesses and customers feel safer.”

For this step of the reopening process, according to CBS Boston, indoor venues can have performances at 50% capacity with no more than 500 people. Indoor activities that might require contact, such as trampoline parks and roller rinks, will be allowed to reopen at 50% capacity.

The change does not affect the usual dining experience for every customer, including Suffolk student Shea Duffy.

“I’m fine with the new phase, I don’t really leave my dorm too often except for class so it doesn’t affect me much. I think restaurant dining opening is ok as long as people wear masks when they are not eating,” said Duffy.

Caffe Vittori in the North End (Emily Devlin)

While businesses and residents’ lives are getting closer to a new normal if negative trends with more infections could cause the state to move back into previous stages.

According to the Department of Labor Standards data from WBUR, 128 restaurants and bars in the state violated COVID-19 regulations as of Dec. 1.

Now that restaurants are operating at full capacity, some workers have additional concerns about their health and safety.

“I’ve worked at a few restaurants throughout the pandemic. It’s stressful, and I’ve never felt safe, even with strict guidelines in place…” one Boston-based worker told Boston Eater. “Now restaurants are opening back up and I have no choice but to go back to work ASAP, but don’t expect to be able to get the vaccine until at least April.”

Customers like Suffolk student Andre Chan shared concerns about the nonexistent capacity limits.

“With the ongoing pandemic, I don’t think restaurants should open dining without limits. They can open for dining, but restrictions should be in place so there are less contamination and less spread of the virus,” said Chan.

Regardless, restaurants are not doing their best as of March 3. According to data provided by Opentable, seated diners from online, phone, and walk-in reservations have decreased by 71.81% in the United States.

Restaurants aren’t the only places reopening in the state. Starting March 22, venues such as Gillette Stadium, Fenway Park and TD Garden can welcome fans back at 12% capacity.

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