Today marks a new beginning for SouthCoast restaurants as Phase 3, Step 2 gets the green light in Massachusetts, ushering in more relaxed guidelines for the food industry. But is it enough?

The new guidelines sound exciting, but some local restaurants are still not thrilled and continue to worry about the future of their business.

Beginning today, restaurants will no longer have to adhere to a capacity limit and patrons will be allowed to sit at the bar – but there’s a catch. All restaurants must continue to maintain a distance of six feet between tables and bar seats. The time limit for indoor dining is still in place, allowing guests no more than 90 minutes, and there can only be six people to a table.

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While the elimination of a capacity restriction is certainly a step in the right direction, the time limit and table size are a huge dent in the pockets of servers and owners.

Michael and Maddie spoke with Kate Chandley from Country Kitchen in Seekonk, and she explained how the struggle will continue for small restaurants.

“it’s important that we still maintain a lot of distancing, so some of the smaller places like ours aren’t necessarily seeing a huge difference from just last week, but every little bit helps," she said.

When Michael and Maddie spoke with Steve Ginsberg from Max’s in Dartmouth, he echoed similar concerns, saying, “With all the restrictions of having six to a party, the time limits, the time constraints, all of it has really been a struggle to me.”

Even Nuno Chitas of Nuno’s in New Bedford didn’t seem thrilled when the morning crew stopped in for lunch on Friday.

“The problem is I am still losing out on tables by keeping six feet in between everyone,” he said. “On top of that, I have had to separate families into two tables that exceed six, even though they live together.” Nuno is hopeful, but it seems as though the smaller restaurants will not feel a sense of relief until customers can come and go as they please.

It’s understandable as to why the six feet of distance is so important for the safety of customers, but the argument can certainly be made that implementing a time limit on guests can greatly affect beverage and food costs, and keeping tables down to six people will continue to keep tabs lower than usual for the serving staff.

Phase 3, Step 2 is an exciting step forward, but SouthCoast restaurants remain guarded. They continue to need our support, now more than ever.

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