Massachusetts Easing Restaurant, Bar Restrictions

Torri Donley

LOWELL, MA — Restaurants will soon be able to seat more people at a table and, at last, open bar seating for food service. The changes go into effect Monday, Gov. Charlie Baker said Wednesday during a news briefing at Mill City BBQ and Brew in Lowell. Restaurants will be […]

LOWELL, MA — Restaurants will soon be able to seat more people at a table and, at last, open bar seating for food service.

The changes go into effect Monday, Gov. Charlie Baker said Wednesday during a news briefing at Mill City BBQ and Brew in Lowell.

Restaurants will be able to seat 10 people at indoor and outdoor tables, up from six.

Bars and nightclubs will remain closed, but restaurants will be able to seat customers in their bar areas for food service. Patrons will have to be seated and will not be permitted to stand in bar areas.

The state made the changes as the battered restaurant industry continues desperate pleas for relief amid coronavirus restrictions. Restaurant owners are fearful of further dwindling revenue as temperatures drop and outdoor seating becomes less appealing.

“These are welcome additions to the restaurant reopen guidelines,” Steve Clark, vice president of government affairs for the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, said in a statement to Patch. “Operators and the MRA have been advocating for these for a while, and we are pleased that they have been formalized today. We hope that these changes will continue to show guests that restaurants are safe places to dine.”

Clark said more help is still needed in the form of grants and other federal and state assistance.

The Massachusetts Restaurant Association estimates 20 percent of the state’s restaurants have closed during the pandemic. On Tuesday a group of restaurant owners and operators representing Massachusetts Restaurants United gathered in front of the State House to call for an aid package that would include funding for struggling restaurants.

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