Phase 3 starts today for restaurants, art venues


NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) – Restaurants and entertainment venues around the Connecticut welcomed back more customers on Thursday as part of the state’s “Phase 3” reopening plan.

The phase included increased indoor capacity and larger crowd sizes, both of which were reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Oct. 8 was a day to which entertainment venues, such as the Shubert Theater in New Haven, and restaurants were looking forward.

The Shubert won’t open this year, but Phase 3 meant many business owners were at least moving a little closer to normal.

At the Shubert Theater, employees and customers said they could finally see bright lights at the end of the tunnel.

Indoor art venues can open at 50 percent capacity, as long as everyone wears masks and practices social distancing.

However, Shubert employees called the transition “not worth it.”

“For a theater the size of the Shubert, that really means that we can only get about 25 percent of our seats actually filled once you were to put the social distancing requirements in place and for a theater like ours, that’s just not financially viable for us to be able to do full scale productions in the theater to such reduced capacity,” said Carla Sullivan of the Shubert Theater.

As a result, the Shubert won’t officially open until 2021, but the theater will continue with some online events.

Restaurants, however, have more flexibility. Inside dining increases from 50 to 75 percent capacity on Thursday.

At joints like Max Downtown in Hartford, that makes a big difference.

“It will help this weekend. All of those six extra tables we will be able to put in with the nonporous barriers,” Steve Abrams of Max Downtown explained.

One thing employees at restaurants and entertainment venues agreed on is that businesses feed off each other’s success. So as Phase 3 begins, they hope the public will be ready to spend some money backing people and places they love.

“[It’s] really important for people to continue supporting the performing arts during this difficult time,” Sullivan added.

Some venues, especially restaurants, will actually have to spend some money to get extra safety items such as additional protective barriers.

The Connecticut Restaurant Association’s executive director, Scott Dolch, released a statement on Thursday regarding the new phase.

Today marks another important step in Connecticut’s nation-leading efforts to respond to COVID-19 in a safe and responsible manner. For months now, Connecticut restaurants have proven that it’s possible to serve customers safely indoors at reduced capacity and with new rules in place. They’ve shown they are ready to take this next step, and to help drive local economies across Connecticut even more.

We want to thank Governor Lamont, Commissioner Lehman, and the rest of their administration for their continued partnership and communication on these issues. Their hard work has helped Connecticut successfully reach this important milestone in its recovery.

We also want to remind them and all of our partners in state government that our work together cannot stop here. In the coming weeks and months, more must be done to protect an industry that at its peak employed 10 percent of Connecticut’s workforce, and which must be a key piece of our state economic recovery in 2021. If the federal government fails to act on a new stimulus bill, we’re confident that state leaders will work with us to ensure local restaurants and their many, many employees get the help they need.

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