PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (AP) — With the arrival of cooler weather, New Hampshire restaurateurs are worried that outdoor dining will soon come to an end, necessitating changes to indoor dining guidelines to help restaurants survive until spring.
Matt Louis, chef and owner of The Franklin, Moxy, Street and Luigi’s West End Pizza in Portsmouth, said a balance needs to be found to help restaurants.
“We have been doing really good here in terms of COVID-19 cases,” Louis said. “Many of us are getting creative in what we do, and I applaud that. But I would like to see the state recognize our success and look at alternatives, things like using dividers between tables.”
The New Hampshire Lodging and Restaurant Association is working with state and health officials for options when wintry weather makes outdoor dining impossible, said Mike Somers, the association's president.
Adding barriers between indoor tables and reducing the distance between them to allow more patrons are options under consideration, he said.
Somers also believes more financial aid will be needed for restaurants. There is no timetable from Congress on when or if that financial aid will be made available.
Louis agreed that assistance is needed.
“Without some help here, I think indoor dining will not be enough to sustain many of our restaurants,” he said. “We will entertain all ideas of how to move forward, but, in the end, we will exist or we will cease to exist. Every decision is on the table right now.”
As of Monday, 7,952 people in New Hampshire had tested positive for the virus, an increase of seven from the previous day. The number of deaths stood at 438.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in New Hampshire has risen over the past two weeks from 28 new cases per day on Sept. 6 to 36 new cases per day on Sept. 20. For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia or death.