Mixed reaction from local restaurants following Dane County capacity limit increase

Published: Mar. 2, 2021 at 11:52 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - An increase in capacity limits at many Dane Co. restaurants and businesses is getting mixed reactions from those in the food service industry.

The new rules come after Dane County public health officials announced a new emergency health order loosening restrictions and increasing capacity limits at many indoor locations to 50 percent. The changes go into effect next week.

Some local restaurant employees told NBC15 they feel a bit uncomfortable operating at half capacity and it’s too soon, while others say it’s about time.

“It’s been so hard every month is different”,” Sencha Tea Bar owner Holly Gale said. After months of redecorating Sencha Tea Bar and readjusting to COVID-19 procedures, she says her shop is by the book.

“You’re able to pull your mask down to take a drink of your drink, but if you’re sitting at a table in my store, you have to have your mask on the entire time, she explained.

Under current Dane County public health restrictions, Gale can only have just eight customers inside at a time, but with the increase to 50 percent capacity, she doubles that number to 16. Gale said the pandemic tanked revenue, but more people allowed inside means more money in her pocket.

“I was happy when I heard it. I think it’s time,” she said. “I do think this will make a tremendous difference I do believe we’re on the right path simply because the time of your year we’re in.”

During a Tuesday news conference Dane, County public health officials credited dropping case counts and rising vaccination rates for the easing of restrictions.

“Even with these changes, we can maintain and improve upon our progress while we work to reclaim our pre pandemic vibrancy in Dane County,” Janel Heinrech, Public Health Madison and Dane County director said.

The county aiming to reach that “new normal” by summer of this year.

“We’ve been through a lot together, and our efforts are paying off. Today, we’re entering a new phase in our journey,” Joe Parisi, Dane County executive said.

Emergency order #14, which includes the updated capacity limits, goes into effect next Wednesday, March 10 at 12:01 a.m.

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