FRAMINGHAM, MA — Framingham will not allow local restaurants to expand seating citing heightened coronavirus cases in the city. Starting Monday, businesses across the state will be allowed to seat more people at a table, and start offering bar service.
Framingham is joining other cities, including Worcester, Salem and Boston, in keeping table service levels at the current maximum of six. On Monday, that will grow to 10, and in some cases diners will be able to eat at bars.
“While Framingham has not seen an increase in COVID-19 cases from restaurants, the City remains a ‘high-risk’ community for COVID-19 transmission,” read a city statement released Friday afternoon. “As such, the mayor and the Framingham Board of Health today issued a joint order that, notwithstanding the updated state order the size of a party seated at any restaurant table (in the main dining and bar areas) in Framingham cannot exceed six people until further notice, to reduce the risk of further transmission of COVID-19 due to large gatherings.”
Framingham reported 26 new coronavirus cases on Friday, the highest in a single reporting period dating back to Sept. 14. The city also reported one new coronavirus-related death.
On Wednesday, the state Department of Public Health kept Framingham on the list of high-risk communities, noting that case rates have continued to increase in recent weeks.
Baker announced the expanded seating policy under pleas for relief from the restaurant industry. Restaurant owners are fearful of further dwindling revenue as temperatures drop and outdoor seating becomes less appealing. The Massachusetts Restaurant Association estimates 20 percent of the state’s restaurants have closed during the pandemic.
This article originally appeared on the Framingham Patch