ARLINGTON, Va. — Nearly one week into new COVID-19 restrictions in Virginia and some restaurant owners said they have noticed a dip in revenue and a decrease in foot traffic.
Part of the concern and notice of revenue losses comes from one restriction that includes the stop of alcohol sales by 10 p.m.
The latest restrictions are yet another hurdle for the food and beverage industry to adapt to as coronavirus cases continue to spike across the country.
“It's completely understandable, we want everyone to be as safe as possible,” Kabir Ghai, co-owner of Thirsty Bernie in Arlington said. “We've upped our sanitation standards and we are trying to ensure customer satisfaction at whatever costs that it may have on us. All of our employees are always wearing masks, gloves, we have a sanitation station for cleaning.”
Kabir co-owns the Arlington sports bar with his brother Gobind. The Ghai brothers said they understand the need for tighter restrictions but are already noticing a financial impact because of it.
“Being a sports bar people come in to drink. But when the drinks have now been cut off at 10 p.m. that kind of limits the crowd that's going to come after 10 to eat food,” Gobind Ghai said. “Our staff has started to notice that there has been a dip in the foot traffic that's coming in.”
The owners said the staff is also making it clear to patrons that no matter what time you sit down, at 10 p.m. they will not be able to order to alcohol.
“We let everyone know that, you know, even though you may have sat down at 9:30 we want to follow the government regulations and we won't be serving anything after 10 o'clock,” Kabir Ghai said.
According to the Virginia Department of Health not all establishments are following the rules.
The VDH said it suspended four food establishment operation permits since the new restrictions went into effect Monday.
"Moving forward, VDH will continue to monitor and respond to complaints regarding alleged violations of the Orders, including during the weekend if necessary,” a VDH spokesperson said.
In a video message to Virginians last week, Gov. Ralph Northam said the virus is spreading in indoor places like restaurants where people take off their mask, at small social gatherings like dinner parties, and when people ignore the science and think they don’t need to wear a mask inside.
On Sunday Virginia reported more than 2,000 new coronavirus cases.
In an effort to keep business flowing during restrictions, the Ghai brothers said they’re working on other strategies to bring people in earlier in the day and to take the food to them.
“We’re doing anything and everything we can right now just to stay afloat and to keep the community around us safe,” Gobind Ghai said. “So whether that be contactless delivery where we can drop the food off in front of their house, honestly you know we're just doing whatever we can just keep the community safe and for us to make our ends meet and survive so ourselves and the community get through this pandemic together.”