Restaurant Owners Fear Layoffs After New COVID-19 Restrictions Take Effect

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced new restrictions to combat coronavirus starting Friday, and some restaurant owners are expressing concern over the potential impact on business

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Massachusetts restaurant owners are fuming over Gov. Charlie Baker's new coronavirus restrictions, which take effect on Friday. They say having to stop table service by 9:30 p.m. will lead to more layoffs and permanent closures.

"Closing at 9:30 p.m. is ridiculous," said Damien DiPaola, who owns Carmelina's and Domenic's in Boston's North End. "I lose two turnovers and do you know what that means? More layoffs."

The state's new restrictions to combat the spread of coronavirus are about to go into effect.

DiPaola said restaurants are being unfairly blamed for spreading the virus. He said he is most concerned about his employees.

"They are cutting us off because people are having parties, and in turn, we have to let people go. We have to tell them they're unemployed, and not all of our employees can collect unemployment," DiPaola said.

"What this curfew is going to do is put us in a pigeonhole of just being open from 5-9," said Randy Greenstein of Big Night Entertainment.

Greenstein says he doesn't know how his restaurants will survive this new curfew. He owns 11 in the Boston area and more at Patriot Place in Foxboro. He has 550 employees, and he's also worried about layoffs.

"Forty-five percent of our revenue at our places is after 9:30, so it's a significant impact," he said. "We're already only doing about 50% of our revenue, and so now 50% of that is going to be 25% of total revenue, and we're just not going to be able to sustain it."

Franco Graceffa, who owns Dolce Vita Ristorante, said he understands why the state is taking action, but it will be tough kicking out customers.

"It will be really difficult, because the young people want to stay and we want the revenue," Graceffa said.

With cases up nearly 300% since Labor Day, Baker has said targeted interventions are needed to keep schools open and the economy functioning.

Liquor sales and recreational activities also have to end by 9:30 p.m. Under the new stay at home advisory, state officials are asking everyone to be home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless they are commuting to work or school, exercising or running an essential errand.

Bob Brooks, an Uber driver, said the restrictions will have a domino effect on his industry, too.

"It's a very lucrative time to drive at night. That's when you can make a lot of money. Now, it will be a ghost town," Brooks said.

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