As we reflect 24hrs after Governor Raimondo’s latest weekly press conference, we felt obligated to express ourselves as members of the community who earn a respectable living in the restaurant and hospitality industry in the State of Rhode Island.
At our locations, we have done all in our power to comply with State mandates. We have done so to not only keep our doors open, but also to keep staff and guests safe through unprecedented times. We have been on countless calls with State leadership including DBR and DOH thru all three reopening phases to help us properly understand the new and evolving guidelines. We have worked with trade organizations Ocean State Alliance and RI Hospitality Association to provide input during the reopening process after being closed for months. We were happy to have a seat at the table and we were appreciative our opinions were valued during these discussions. We have given the Governor much praise thru this crisis for keeping us all as safe as possible.
Unfortunately, the path most recently taken by State leadership targeting our industry has been disgraceful. Last week our industry endured being Covid-shamed as a category of businesses that weren’t doing enough to impose upon the general public to comply with guidelines. Press conference quotes, tweets, and hashtags threatening shut downs were used as fear tactics that created an uneasy work environment. This week, an 11pm ‘bar area’ curfew was hastily announced sending hysteria into our industry without any discussion, consideration, or consultation with our industry representatives. From there, media outlets have run with misleading and overreaching headlines that continue to cause mass confusion for consumers who are made to believe that all restaurant activity ends at 11pm statewide.
Our message today is two-fold; first to express our wholehearted frustration with the recent path taken by the Governor’s office as it pertains to restaurants, and second to inform patrons that our hours of operation will continue as-is. We have not opened our ‘bar areas’ for seating. Our seating is restricted to indoor and outdoor dining tables which we will continue to service until 1am closing hour in the same compliant manner that we have since reopening.
We respectfully ask that the Governor and her task force teams to identify the businesses who defy regulations and isolate any penalties, fines, hashtags, and headlines to those bad actors instead of blanket statements and rash policies that negatively affect an entire industry.