Restaurant Association takes issue with order reducing indoor capacity

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The Delaware Restaurant Association is taking issue with Gov. John Carney’s executive order that reduces occupancy to 30 percent while allowing retailers to stay at 60 percent.

The lower capacity figure becomes effective on Monday.

President Carrie Leishman claimed the state has an “unfounded impression that restaurants are part of the problem. As a result, restaurants will severely suffer from these inconsistent and restrictive mandates not applied to other industries.”

“Further study shows that Delaware contact tracing data represents a statistically weak sampling including responses from only 23 percent of interviewed cases, and has not reported on visitation of common places such as retail, grocery, convenience, gas stations as well as the workplace,” Leishman wrote.

“In our opinion, this data lacks merit. Business sector restrictions and closures based on this type of contact tracing is dangerous. Restaurants have become the convenient and easy scapegoat for reflexive shutdowns while Covid-19 documented spread is accelerating from private indoor gatherings and house parties,” she wrote.

At the weekly coronavirus briefing, Carney and Delaware Division of Public Health Director Karyn Rattay, cited Covid-19 cases that stemmed from groups dining at restaurants. Rattay said indoor conditions and the lack of facemasks can lead to spreading events that have been reported here and elsewhere.

Carney said the state’s grant program will add $25 million to assist hard-hit areas of the economy.

Leishman wrote that restaurants have lost nearly $900 million since March shutdowns. The hospitality industry saw the largest loss among job categories, according to the Delaware Department of Labor figures.

“Today‚Äôs announcement will surely accelerate the permanent closure of hundreds of restaurants,” Leishman wrote.

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