Correction issued below
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Wednesday, people dined out at restaurants for the first time in months. Outdoor seating opened at limited capacity.
Some places just had one or two people out on their patio while others had dozens. All are excited to be regaining a sense of normalcy. For the first time in months, people are dining at restaurants.
O’Niell’s Pub in Nob Hill had a good showing Wednesday with several groups socially distanced on their patio enjoying beer and burgers. “If we had to experience this too much longer, we do not know how much longer we could stay around,” said General Manager Skyler Whitehead.
For restaurants without patios, the City of Albuquerque announced plans to start taking applications for businesses to expand outdoor seating on sidewalks or parking lots. “I think that is a great way to spread the wealth among businesses,” diner Robert Colica said. Olo Dessert Studio put its tables out Wednesday. “Sitting here and being near the restaurant is actually pretty nice,” diner Tess Degnan said.
When restaurants are able to allow people back inside, presumably Monday, they will have to follow new rules. Restaurants can retain a daily log of customers for contact tracing purposes but are not required. O’Niell’s is already doing it. “We do have the book and are offering it to people to sign.”
Some customers said they are fine with leaving their information. “It makes sense to me,” diner Vanessa Will said. “Personally, I do not have a problem with it. I understand some people might get upset about that.” Others said they believe it will be hard to enforce.
Restaurants like Paisano’s said it is unfair since retail doesn’t have the same requirement. “It is not fair,” owner Rick Camuglia said. “There seems to be a lot of discrepancies depending on which type of business you own.” O’Niell’s said it will do whatever is required to keep customers coming in.
Many restaurants with patios remain closed Wednesday and said the governor’s announcement Tuesday afternoon did not give them enough time to prepare. The governor said restaurants are on track to reopen inside dining Monday. She will give an update Thursday.
City Councilor Brook Bassan also proposed legislation that would allow restaurants and bars to sell alcohol in their parking lots and other fenced-in outdoor areas. That is being discussed and voted on Monday, but it also needs approval by the state.
Correction: In an earlier version of this story KRQE reported that restaurants will be required to retain a daily log for at least four weeks including the date, name, and contact information of all customers for contact tracing. That is incorrect, restaurants can retain a daily log if they want to but are not required to.
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