Downtown Burlington restaurants to close after new COVID rules

Published: Nov. 22, 2020 at 10:06 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - As Vermont restaurants are handed more COVID restrictions, some in downtown Burlington are making the tough decision to temporarily close up shop for the second time this year.

This comes after Gov. Phil Scott announced restaurants are not allowed to seat people from different households at one table.

Church Street Marketplace Executive Director Kara Alnasrawi says the new rule is one of the main reasons businesses are closing their doors.

“Only being able to serve single families and due to the lack of tourists in town, it doesn’t always make economic sense for these restaurants to stay open,” Alnasrawi said.

Alnasrawi says several downtown Burlington restaurants that have taken hard hits during the pandemic are planning to “hibernate.”

“Just closing down their business temporarily until this rapidly evolving situation improves and they feel that it makes economic sense to reopen their doors,” she said.

Halvorson’s is one of the restaurants closing. WCAX News spoke to a manager on Sunday who said that was their last day open. They’ll be shut down until further notice. Finnigan’s Pub is also closed for the foreseeable future and Zabby and Elf’s Stone Soup won’t open back up until Dec. 2.

Alnasrawi says there’s currently no telling what kind of impact this will have on the local economy but it’s likely other stores on Church Street will feel a ripple effect. She says that’s because the Marketplace benefits from a positive synergy between restaurants and retail.

“It is unfortunate that one side of that equation is being hit so hard right now,” Alnasrawi said.

But not every restaurant is closing. August First on Main Street has decided to stay open for as long as the governor allows it.

Owner Jodi Whalen says as long as they have the money to sustain the business, they’ll keep the doors open and continue following safety protocol.

“As of right now, we’re following the governor’s guidelines,” Whalen said. “We have in-house dining. We have partitions between all of the tables, a lot of safety in place. Our goal is to be here for the community, be here for our staff, as long as we can.”

Sweetwaters, the Gryphon and Ri Ra say they also plan to stay open. Gaku Ramen says they’re undecided. Farmhouse Tap and Grill says they’ll be open as long as their staff feels safe going to work. However, they’ve cut back hours and are primarily focusing on takeout.

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