‘It’s not that easy’: Nightclub owner concerned by lack of reopening guidance from the state

Business News

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ When Anthony Santurri, owner of The Colosseum in Providence, first heard the state was lifting the majority of its COVID-19 restrictions Friday, he was elated.

But now, he’s worried by the lack of guidance from the state.

“It’s just not that easy to flip the switch,” he said. “I don’t want to criticize, but I don’t think the message was very clear.”

McKee said nightclubs are allowed to reopen at 50% capacity, unless all patrons can show proof of vaccination, then it can move to 100%.

Despite being allowed to, Santurri said he’s waiting to reopen his nightclub because there are too many unknowns, especially when it comes to asking patrons for proof of vaccination.

“This is new territory for everyone,” he said. “The last thing I want to do is get into a legal battle.”

Santurri isn’t alone in waiting to reopen. He tells 12 News roughly half of the the capital city’s nightclubs plan to remain closed for the time being.

McKee said he understands some business owners will have questions, and he encouraged them to reach out to the R.I. Department of Business Regulation for answers.

“It’s a big weekend,” he said. “Please be patient and courteous with one another.”

Santurri believes the state should release an outline for all nightclub owners on how they should be operating so they can accurately enforce the rules.

“I think it’s unfair that it wasn’t messaged strongly and continuously from last Thursday’s decision to this Thursday,” he said. “Especially if we were going to be singled out as a business entity again by having more restrictions than anyone else.”

He’s also questioning why McKee is “vilifying” nightclubs over other businesses, especially since they’ve all been closed for more than a year.

“I don’t know how we ended up being the villain in the game when we never even participated in the game,” he said.

Santurri said he plans to reopen his dance floor on June 25.

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