RI relaxes guidelines for spacing between outdoor tables at restaurants

Business News

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Two feet may not seem like a lot, but for restaurants in Rhode Island, the difference of 8 feet or 6 feet between tables could mean staying in business throughout the pandemic.

Gov. Gina Raimondo announced Wednesday that she has lowered the required distance between tables in an effort to make more seats available.

“Outdoor tables for outdoor dining only have to be spaced 6 feet apart instead of 8 feet apart,” Raimondo said.

Outdoor dining returned back in May with limited options for many restaurants.

Gabriel Constantino, manager of Constantino’s Venda Bar & Ristorante on Federal Hill, was pleased to hear about the relaxed restrictions.

“This is just great news for restaurants in general,” he said.

With the outdoor dining season slowly winding down, the announcement means more business for the hurting industry.

“It is my hope you can fit a few more tables outside and do a little bit more business over the next couple of months,” Raimondo said.

More tables likely means more customers.

“We’re talking anywhere from 10 to 15 tables,” Constantino said.

More importantly, restaurant workers believe this will provide a major economic boost and a need for more employees.

“Two to three waiters, which is another busser, which is another food runner, that means another person in the kitchen,” Constantino said. “We’re talking about a lot of jobs that were just created today.”

In an industry built around preparation, restaurants are looking to capitalize on this momentum.

“We’re hoping the next step is this is something that takes place with indoor dining and it will allow us to grab some more business inside as well,” Constantino said.

But more tables and customers also means everyone will be a little closer together, so customers will have to be extra aware of keeping a social distance and wearing a mask.

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