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Hey, SouthCoast, it looks like we are getting some updates to our reopening regulations.

Governor Charlie Baker announced today that there will be several changes to restaurant policies that will go into effect on Monday, and it sounds like the barstools are going to get some use again.

NBC10 reported that Baker made the announcement while visiting the Mill City BBQ and Brew in Lowell, and starting on Monday, September 28, the governor will allow restaurants to utilize their bar areas and increase table sizes from six to 10 people, which will apply to both indoor and outdoor seating.

Baker made it clear that the establishments that are categorized solely as bars will remain closed, but “restaurants with bar seating may now use those spaces for food service with the right distance measures in place.”

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell said on our sister station WBSM this afternoon that he wants the city's health department to examine whether they want to "refine" the governor's ease of restrictions for city restaurants.

Here is the run-down for bar seating in Massachusetts, according to the MA Safety Standards:

Bar seating is permitted provided that either:

  • There are no active work areas or working staff behind the bar at least six feet away; or
  • There is a physical barrier (e.g. Plexiglas) separating customers from the bar space that is at least 30 inches high and a gap/opening at the bottom of the barrier is allowed for food and drink service as long as the gap/opening is no more than eight inches high
  • In addition, parties must be seated at bars (no standing customer service) and parties must be spaced at least six feet from other parties
  • Subject to any applicable building and fire code requirements, bar areas may be re-configured to accommodate table seating that complies with all spacing and other requirements in these COVID-19 safety standards. Tables must not be placed within six feet of the staffed bartending area.

I think the biggest challenge for restaurants will be adhering to the six-foot rule, but it certainly helps establishments make better use of the space in their restaurant.

It's one step closer to normalcy, but I'm worried that we may have jeopardized our chances of keeping our COVID-19 numbers down. What do you think?