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Bar Seating Now Allowed

Governor Ralph Northam surprised restaurant workers Thursday night after he quietly amended an executive order to allow bar seating.

Chrissie Lozano works at the Bamboo Cafe in Richmond and heard about the change when she clocked in.

“I came into work today and the boss let me know that that announcement had taken place,” she said. “We’re talking about where to go next from there.”

The executive order says that patrons can sit at the bar as long as there’s six feet between parties. Some restaurants said they won’t enact bar seating because of their physical layout and needs. But at the Bamboo Cafe it will help fill out the restaurant under social distancing guidelines.

“Its going to make a huge difference for us,” she said. “Sometimes the restaurant will be technically at capacity when there's only five people in here because they're all at a table.”

Chris Staples, the director of hospitality marketing for EAT Restaurant Partners, said he was pleasantly surprised too. Thursday morning he quickly got to work with his 13 restaurants to develop a plan on how to get bar seating set up.

“We'd love to return back to a communal bar atmosphere, but we know we're not there yet,” he said. “And [its] probably smart to slowly work our way back there.”

The change went into effect immediately and Staples said restaurants can get bar seating set up pretty quickly.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Jahd Khalil is a reporter and producer in Richmond.
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