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New Haven businesses brace for impact of Yale's quarantine protocol requiring avoiding businesses

While it’s only a temporary measure, businesses are expecting to be impacted, especially those who rely on dine-in and bar business.

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Yale University’s spring semester will be starting on Jan. 25, which is a week later than originally scheduled. And, in addition to being required to be fully vaccinated, boosted and tested upon arrival, undergraduate students are now being told they cannot frequent New Haven's businesses the way they have in the past.  

While it’s only a temporary measure, businesses are expecting to be impacted, especially those who rely on dine-in and bar business.

In an email to undergraduate students last week, under Phase 2 of the Arrival Quarantine, Yale students were instructed to avoid local businesses, including retail, restaurants, and bars, as well as those with outdoor drinking or dining until at least Feb. 7. 

"Everybody’s responsible, you see everybody here wearing a mask," said Mazin Atout, Manager of Est Est Est Pizza on Chapel St. "Anyone who’s working here they have to sanitize their hands every maybe half an hour, especially when they touch something."

Nearly 80% of his business is from Yale.

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Next door at Chap's Grille, they too are following all the safety protocols. And the owner notes that, with students being required to be vaccinated and boosted, he does not understand why this measure is necessary.  

"It is a little bit too much, but for the sake of the safety, maybe it’s not," said Khalil Alsankary, the owner of Chap’s Grille, with a smile.

The university says this measure is for the good of public health on the Yale campus and the broader New Haven community. 

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Some restaurants lease their commercial space from Yale, so they were uncomfortable weighing in.

"Our restaurants have done everything that's been asked of them," said Scott Dolch, President of the Connecticut Restaurant Association. "They've gone over and above and beyond. The ones I've talked to in New Haven specifically in the last week you know they're testing their employees almost on a daily basis." 

But the owner of Claire's Cornercopia, a New Haven staple for 46 years, applauds the university.

"Students return to school to go to Yale from all over the world, and I think it's prudent," said Claire Criscuolo. "I think it's the smartest thing to let them wait two weeks before they come in." 

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The concern is, what if the university's requirement lasts longer than two weeks? Yale said they will review the city's positivity rate on Feb. 7. 

"I would say our restaurants are as safe as any place on campus or any off-campus housing or restaurants and are probably even safer with the protocols they have," Dolch said. 

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker described Yale's requirement as a bit over the top. 

"Our local businesses are really struggling right now, and the fact of the matter is that the university community is a main driver for the economic support of our businesses," said Elicker. 

Yale says its undergraduate students may frequent local businesses, who provide curbside, or sidewalk pick up during this quarantine period. 

Tony Terzi is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at tterzi@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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