Businesses prepare for COVID restrictions to be lifted on Friday

Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 6:14 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Friday marks perhaps the Commonwealth’s biggest step towards pre-pandemic life in over a year: all capacity and gathering restrictions will be lifted, as per Governor Ralph Northam.

Businesses will no longer have to do things like count how many people are inside at once, but preparing for that full return takes a lot of work.

“We plan to abide by the governor’s orders and reopen fully when we are allowed to,” said Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney during a virtual briefing on Wednesday afternoon.

He said that the drop in cases and rise in vaccinations give him faith in a safe reopening.

“There is a light at the end of the tunnel. I look forward to us getting to the end of the tunnel, but this doesn’t mean that we’re in the clear just yet,” he added.

Fewer restrictions mean more business for places like Capital Ale House on East Main Street.

It’s been over a month since bar seating was reinstated, which has been good for business, according to owner Matt Simmons.

“[The bar seats have] been full during our high revenue periods, so once we get more stools, we think they’ll all fill up too.”

The staff has been putting tables, chairs, and bar stools back that were stored away for health guidelines, as they prep for pre-pandemic numbers in their game room, beer garden, and music hall.

“We’re getting there. I guess once the masks go away completely, I think everybody will know it’s at least getting behind us, but we’re just excited to have people come in,” Simmons said.

But while Friday brings good news, Capital Ale House had to endure an industry-wide symptom: cutting staff.

“I would ask customers to be patient with us; to really be patient with all restaurants as they try to get staffed back up and back to where they were over a year ago,” he added.

He’s hoping to fill those positions as business picks up.

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