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Restaurants struggling, trying to avoid layoffs after multihousehold mandate

Published: Nov. 21, 2020 at 10:49 PM EST
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ESSEX JUNCTION, Vt. (WCAX) - Restaurants in Vermont are struggling to stay afloat after Governor Phil Scott’s newest mandate that prohibits people from different households to dine together.

It’s been one week since Gov. Scott announced the mandate, and restaurants are feeling the impacts.

“The the rules change every day,” said Silvio Mazzella, the owner of Jules on the Green in Essex Junction. “Imagine if it was a sport and you’re trying to win and every time you got yourself ahead, you figured it out... then there’s another rule change. So it does put itself into a very unique situation.”

Mazzella says this rule is forcing them to turn people away. Turning away customers means also turning down money.

“And it’s just a shame because it’s not only a loss, it’s a waste because you still have to have food prepared. You still have your business plan to maintain. You still have payroll but there’s no guests and there’s nobody eating,” he said.

Mazzella says Jules has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars since March and this new mandate is contributing to that.

In Colchester at Rozzi’s Lakeshore Tavern, they’re dealing with a similar situation. Manager Kori Reinders says they’re out close to $100,00. And now, the business is taking even more of a hit.

“It’s negatively impacting it because less people are going out to meet their friends because a lot of people don’t feel comfortable in social settings but since restaurants are more regulated, they feel safer going to just meet their friends in a restaurant in public where you have to wear a mask unless you’re eating or drinking,” she said. “And now they can’t do that.”

Mazzella and Reinders both say as of right now, they’re finding ways to avoid layoffs.

“People are just getting a few less hours because our hours are shorter and we need less staff on but we don’t want to lay anybody off so we’re trying really hard not to,” Reinders said.

“I’m trying to reallocate and have them maybe help with the phones, with the takeout, maybe help put orders together in the back of the kitchen instead of being in the dining room,” said Mazzella.

Restaurant owners are also urging Congress to pass another coronavirus relief bill to help businesses stay open and provide an incentive to keep their staff.

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