The announcement that Rhode Island restaurants have been dying to hear has finally come: no more curfew.

NBC10 reports “Gov. Gina Raimondo will sign an executive order (today) that will immediately lift the curfew on restaurants and other businesses in Rhode Island.” The curfew will be lifted on Sunday, giving our restaurants a brighter light at the end of this very long tunnel. I’m ecstatic for the restaurant industry, but this should have never happened to them in the first place.

Massachusetts lifted its "COVID curfew" last week.

From the very beginning of the pandemic, small businesses and restaurants were targeted as non-essential. For the past 11 months, these businesses have had to walk on eggshells, trying to follow every new guideline and protocol thrown at them, only for it to change again and again.

At first, I saw the logic in reducing the capacity of in-person dining; the less social contact, the better. When the curfew was introduced, however, that’s when my heart broke for the restaurant industry and my tolerance for the new rules ran out.

Did closing the restaurant a few hours early really make that much of a dent in COVID-19 cases? I dare to say no. Will it severely damage food and beverage sales, ultimately causing the downfall of many local businesses overtime? Absolutely.

Forget the fact, for a moment, that these servers, bartenders, barbacks, and owners alike are dependent on customer attendance. Looking further, restaurants have been dealing with sanitation requirements on a local, state, and national level long before the pandemic, so if there is one type of business that knows how to deal with COVID regulations, it’s restaurants.

I personally believe that the curfew was a misguided attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 and was the ultimate downfall for so many restaurants I have come to love.

I spent 10 years in the restaurant industry. I know firsthand how every single hour of operation is crucial to making money, and I am thrilled for the industry that they have a fighting chance again of coming out of this pandemic on top.

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