Restaurants Considering When To Reopen Amid Strict Requirements
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – For the first time in more than six weeks, restaurants that meet strict requirements in Salt Lake County have the option to open their dining areas to customers.
But check before you go, because not all restaurants are reopening as soon as possible.
Hours before state and county officials planned to replace dine-in closures with strict requirements, Daniel Yuswadi, owner of MakanMakan in Sandy, was cautiously optimistic.
“My gut is telling me ‘let’s open,’ but my brain is still thinking, ‘okay, is it safe?’” Yuswadi said.
Since Governor Gary’s Herbert’s order to close dine-in operations in mid-March, Yuswadi’s furniture has been collecting dust.
“We’ve trying to catch up,” said Yuswadi, who’s struggled to make up for losses with takeout and delivery options. “The bills are not slowing down. The bills are not slowing down.”
But when Yuswadi learned about the governor’s plan to transition the state from the high-risk coronavirus phase to a moderate phase on Friday, he began preparing his restaurant.
Chairs and tables are now spaced with physical distancing in mind, and each space comes with a no-contact option to order food. You simply scan a QR code at the table and order on your phone.
You also won’t find silverware and condiments on the table. Instead, you’ll get plasticware and condiments with your meal to limit the amount of touching.
“We sanitize everything,” Yuswadi said.
But customers can expect a longer wait for a dine-in option at other places, like Lavanya Mahate’s Saffron Valley restaurants.
“It’s been a whole new way of operations. It’s been a whole new experience, to say the least,” Mahate said. “But we’re not going to open yet for dine-in starting tomorrow because we want to take a measured approach.”
Mahate’s restaurants have been quick to offer free meals and encouraging messages to deserving customers during the pandemic, but they’re taking more time to prepare their four locations and staff before customers return.
“It’s very humbling and reassuring to know that we’re all in this together,” Mahate said of the pandemic. “Personally I think of each of our restaurants as my own home so whatever I would do in my house to keep our kids safe.”
Strict requirements for dine-in food service include monitoring employees for coronavirus symptoms, wearing face masks, enforcing physical distancing, frequent disinfecting and limiting self-service options.
The Salt Lake County Health Department wrote in their message to restaurants, “It is critical for the health of all Salt Lake County residents that business owners, employees and customers understand and comply with these requirements. Businesses that do not comply may be closed by Salt Lake County Health Department.”
“It’s something that we’re getting used to but I think that’s the new normal,” Mahate said.
A new normal these restaurant owners can only hope customers will readily understand and accept.
“Still tough. Still really really tough,” Yuswadi said. “Hopefully with the opening tomorrow, we’ll see. We’ll see how it goes.”
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