Public health officials urge restaurant owners to get head start on policy changes

Published: Apr. 26, 2020 at 10:48 PM CDT
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Public health officials are urging restaurant owners to get a head start on changing procedures before the Badger Bounce Back plan begins.

Juan Murilla has owned Nonno's Ristorante Italiano for seven years.

"It’s definitely not the same. We get a lot of support from regular customers, but it's nothing like having them here at the restaurant," Murilla said.

He said his job gives him the best of both worlds.

"I get to be in the kitchen. I get to be on the floor. I love everything about that," he said.

But lately he has spent less time in both. He said business is down 70 percent because pickup and delivery isn't enough.

"We want to see our customers and continue the relations we have with them," he said.

He said he's cooking up a new plan so when it's time to open his doors for dine-in, he's ready.

"Opening up a little more space and not seating customers close together," he said.

Murilla said he's explored seating options that practice social distancing and servers will be required to wear masks and gloves.

"We actually care about this and we want everyone to be healthy," he said.

Public health officials said moving tables and changing seating is one of many ways businesses can get a head start on changing policy.

"I think restaurants should start planning what those different phases may look like," Bonnie Koenig, Public Health Madison & Dane County services supervisor said.

Health officials said they're using Gov. Tony Evers’ Badger Bounce Back plan as a template to create guidelines for bars and restaurants.

She said bars and restaurants can expect limited occupancy, strict social distancing and increased cleaning in the new set of guidelines.

"We’re going to have to do this incrementally, slowly and safely for our community," Koenig said.

Koenig said it's important the public does their part when these changes go into effect.

"I think it's important the public is a good partner and respects these restaurants when they have social distancing best practices," she said.

Public health officials said they're still working on finalized guidelines and templates for bars and restaurants.