Vermont restaurants cleared to open limited indoor dining

Published: Jun. 5, 2020 at 4:20 PM EDT
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It's the news many struggling Vermont restaurants have been waiting to hear: starting Monday they can open their doors to diners, with restrictions, of course. Our Olivia Lyons breaks down the rules and has reaction from restaurant owners.

During Gov. Phil Scott's press conference Friday, he called it limited indoor dining.

"I kept telling them, Monday, Monday and finally I'm like, this coming Monday," said Paula Ketcham of Mae's Place in Brandon.

The governor is opening limited indoor seating, up to 25% capacity, on Monday.

Tables must be six feet apart and no seating at bars.

Ketcham says this change adds more options for diners.

"The sidewalks are hot right now or it rains and it kind of makes it a little difficult for us to get our older clientele to be comfortable out there," Ketcham said.

Mae's Place will be reconfiguring their restaurant Sunday night so they are ready to open inside Monday morning.

At Cafe Provence in Brandon, staffers will be taking this weekend to set up the indoor dining to meet the new guidelines.

"I feel really good. I was waiting for a few days now, hoping he would make that announcement soon and he did, thank you," said Chef Robert Barral of Cafe Provence.

Barral says it will be an economic boost, as well.

"Hoping that the 25% and the seats we have outside will be sufficient to pay all our bills," Barral said.

They have already received reservations for next weekend. One person who booked is Loren Roth, a long-time Cafe Provence customer. He thinks the state should have reopened earlier.

"Ohhh, without question! It will be good for our economy. We have been too cautious in Vermont," Roth said.

"I am so grateful for our customers for waiting for us to open. They come and ask us all the time, how are you doing? Are you going to make it? It's nice to hear that they are concerned about it," Barral said.

Cafe Provence took advantage of the PPE loan and offered takeout. They will also continue the takeout and outdoor seating options.

Back at Mae's Place, they say takeout is a good source of income during this pandemic, but the more patrons, the better.

"We've done a lot of takeout and we have heard a lot of good things about it, so we're hoping that means people will come dine-in when they can," Ketcham said.

Governor Scott said with this first step, it won't be dining as usual.

He knows restaurants have a long way to go to get back to normal and that they can't make it at only 25% capacity, but it's a start.

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