Latest turn of the spigot leaves some Vt. businesses out in the cold

Published: Sep. 21, 2020 at 4:22 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont hotels can now operate at 100% capacity and restaurants can seat some guests at the bar. Businesses say that’s a huge help heading into foliage season.

But not everyone is seeing the benefit. Besides hotels and restaurants that have bar-counters, other restaurants and other businesses don’t gain anything from this latest “turn of the spigot.”

While some places like the Hotel Vermont are happy to have new guidelines, other businesses are hoping they can hold out until the next round of lessened restrictions.

“It’s certainly helpful, I mean it’s something we’ve been waiting for-- all summer-- and to get this news at least before foliage is good,” said Hans van Wees, the general manager of the Hotel Vermont in downtown Burlington.

Van Wees says when the state only allowed them to be half full, they had to turn people away.

Now, they’ve got the greenlight to run at full capacity but they’re still struggling due to a lack of out-of-state visitors.

“If they’re eligible to travel, without quarantine, at least we don’t have to turn those guests away,” van Wees said.

He also noted their restaurant Juniper will benefit from the new 50% bar-counter capacity guideline when they move to indoor dining later this fall.

“We’re currently working on our plans for indoor operations which I’m sure will include the ability to dine at the bar, as well,” van Wees said.

Some Vermonters I spoke with had mixed feelings about the new guidelines. Some agreed with Gov. Phil Scott’s decision to turn the spigot and further open up the lodging industry.

“I’m glad to hear it, you know because like, there’s been so much restriction and so much stuff going on and-- I feel like it’s about time people start getting back to their lives and stuff,” said James Vantine of Burlington.

While others thought it was a bad idea going into flu season.

“I think we should have stayed the way we were, until after the fall flu season and make it through that first,” said Hilary S. of Burlington.

A lot of hotels and restaurants have benefited from these new guidelines; at the same time, there are restaurants and cafes out there that haven’t benefited or been affected at all by the loosening of restrictions.

“Well, to be honest, it didn’t affect our business at all. You know, we’ve allowed, had just two tables inside,” said Peter Bahrenburg, who owns the Bagel on North Avenue in Burlington’s New North End.

Bahrenburg says they’ve done almost exclusively takeout since the pandemic began and thankfully haven’t lost a lot of business. He is hoping eateries like his will be included in the next round of loosened restrictions.

“I think when the colder weather comes, you know all these outside tables will be probably unused, and it may be helpful at that point to open it up a little bit more,” Bahrenburg said.

Until then, the Bagel and other businesses will need to be creative so they can survive COVID-19.

Related Story:

Vermont bars get greenlight for counter seating; lodgings go to full-capacity

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