Restaurants react to limited reopening of outdoor dining

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The state announced details on a color-coded tier system which will determine what businesses can begin to reopen moving forward. Starting on Wednesday, restaurants and drink establishments still won’t be allowed to have indoor dining, but will be able to offer 25 percent of maximum capacity for outdoor dining.

For the last two weeks, restaurants and drink establishments statewide have only been allowed to offer take out, curbside, and delivery. Some restaurant owners KRQE spoke with Friday said they’re glad to open up their patio setups again, even if it is cold and it can only be at 25 percent capacity.

“I think it could work, but I don’t know how well it works because if you don’t get that many people out there, by the time you pay for the tent, you pay for propane and stuff like that, it’s hard to say if it’s worth it,” said Dan Garcia, one of the owners of Garcia’s Kitchen.

Garcia said it will be nice to offer his customers outdoor dining even though it’s only at 25 percent capacity. He believes it’s still better than nothing. However, with temperatures dropping everyday, he doesn’t know if customers will even want to eat outside. 

KRQE spoke with Carol Wight, the CEO of the New Mexico Restaurant Association. She appreciates the state’s gesture but says it’s still not enough, considering New Mexico restaurants still have to abide by some of the strictest rules in the country. 

“Every other state has full capacity in outdoor dining or a percentage of something way above 25 percent,” said Wight. “We’re appreciative of the gesture, but in the middle of winter, it’s just that, a gesture.” 

She said these new changes will be more beneficial for restaurants in the southern part of the state because temperatures are more mild. Compared to restaurants in the northern part of the state which are already seeing snow and consistently cold temperatures.  

As of Friday, 32 of the state’s 33 counties are at the red level. Counties that have a positivity rate of more than 5 percent. If things start to improve, counties will go to the yellow level, which will allow 25 percent of maximum capacity for indoor dining and 75 percent for outdoor dining.

New Mexico Coronavirus Resource Guide

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