MILFORD, Conn. — The State of Connecticut's phase 2.1 plan has gone into effect. The states roll back comes as COVID-19 cases are rising across the state. The change is hitting the restaurant industry hard.
The restrictions on restaurants make phase 2.1 seem more like 1.5. Places like Dockside Brewery are doing everything they can to stay afloat. Their latest idea that had been approved by the city is now in limbo.
"It was a big investment for about a week of use," said Kevin Fitzsimmons the General Manager of Dockside Brewery.
Just one week and shut down. Dockside Brewery purchased 10 "Igloos" to keep customers safe and warm for the winter months. The tent sized enclosures can be rented out for your immediate family.
"From their house, right to the parking lot, right out to the igloo to enjoy dinner with your family and then go back home without any contact with anyone," said Fitzsimmons.
The igloos quickly became a hit. People could rent out one for three hours. The other 21 hours, Dockside employees spend disinfecting and airing out the bubbles.
"We come in, we have a "ghost buster" backpack, spray inside the igloo and it kills COVID on contact for up to three weeks," said Fitzsimmons.
The igloos were approved by the city of Milford Health Department and the State recently okayed the similarly constructed "greenhouses". This prompted Dockside to invest about $20,000 into purchasing, theming, lighting, and heating the igloos. Then phase 2.1 put the igloos on ice.
"If there's a tent or a place where there isn't ventilation, we think there's significant chance of transmission and that's what we're trying to protect against," said DECD Commissioner David Lehman.
Phase 2.1 also requires owners to stop serving at 9:30 pm and have everyone out by 10 pm. This is devastating to weekend business, especially for a brewery that opened during the pandemic.
"It’s totally flipped around everything we’ve done. Our business plan has been flipped upside down 10 different times," said Dockside Brewery Owner Bob Chicoine.
The Connecticut Restaurant Association is still in discussions with the state. They want to get an explanation for the new restrictions while trying to aid businesses desperately in need. They are also asking the state to provide more financial help to restaurants f these rules stay in effect.
"Having to rollback is going to have some negative impacts on these restaurants being able to generate revenue on a no fault to their own," said Scott Dolch of the Connecticut Restaurant Association.