Restaurants navigate state ‘guidance’


Good afternoon,

The Delaware Restaurant Association recently passed along the most recent state Division of Public Health regs.

Reading through the guidanceisa good idea for diners. Many of us are not fully aware of the complexities that are part of the new normal

Capacity remains at 60 percent, not a formula for profitability. Once tables and booths are separated, that figure can fall below 50 percent. Outdoor seating has helped but has its limits on our far-too-numerous 90-degree-plus days.

The association announced it will release a report on Wednesday on the impact of Covid-19 on Delaware. A past report indicated that the job loss was among the steepest among the 50 states

The loss of those jobs has been a factor in Delaware’s high jobless rate. After all, a look at state figures showed that hospitality jobs were a big factor in the state seeing a four percent unemployment rate pre-Covid.

For its part, the Division of Health officials says staff will work with restaurants on seating solutions that maintain separation, but allow greater flexibility. Obviously, long, narrow formats are a big challenge.

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The rules were not made on a whim. The state has used guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention aimed at limiting the spread of coronavirus. A few requirements are head-scratchers. Most make sense.

You have already encountered some of the protocols that are outlined in the guidelines.

In Phase 2, self-serve buffets are still out of the question. A number of establishments with an all-buffet model remain closed, perhaps forever. The old-fashioned labor-intensive cafeteria that had been fading away would work.

One requirement that can be a source of confusion comes in the area of reservations.

The protocol is in place as a way to avoid congregating in a small area while waiting for your name to be called. Restaurants often prefer that you call before entering, even with a reservation.

The Restaurant Association is working to deal with any confusing contradictory or unworkable provisions that have pop up.

Meanwhile, the Division of Health is stepping up inspections and responding to complaints that can include staff not properly wearing face coverings or congregating in an area. If you see noncompliance, send an email here.

Some might see this as snitching, but noncompliance reflects badly on restaurants and bars trying to do the right thing.

Enjoy your day and if possible patronize your favorite local independent dining establishment. A few Tuesday specials are also around that can sweeten the deal.

A drive-by of parking lots at chain spots seems to indicate that business is up. Let’s hope the indies get some of that love. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.

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