Restaurants prepare to re-open outdoor dining

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)- Some South Carolina restaurants are preparing to serve guests outside on Monday.

For six weeks, restaurants have been limited to offering carry out and delivery options. Gov. McMaster announced Friday he is lifting the restrictions that he previously imposed on restaurants to combat Covid-19.

Kristina Murphy, who is a vice president at Larkin’s Restaurants, said they are excited to get business going again and are taking safety seriously.

Murphy said they had to lay off nearly 320 workers as restaurants across South Carolina shut their doors amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

“We’re having a full team in tomorrow to completely gut the restaurant, pressure wash it, clean it, sanitize it, separate these tables and start to train them on our new procedures,” Murphy said.

Larkin’s Restaurants Limoncello and Larkin’s on the River will be opening for dining al fresco, while the company’s burger joint, Grill Marks, will stick to carry out orders to keep social distance.

“With so many people walking up and down the street, it’s really not safe to put tables there,” Murphy said.

According to the governor, restaurants must follow outdoor seating guidelines from the South Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association. Restrictions include at least eight feet between tables, no groups of more than eight people, strict use of PPE, frequent cleaning, and maintaining social distracting. The governor’s office also said tables and chairs should be sanitized after every customer.

Murphy said the Larkin’s group is taking it a step further, bringing in disposable silverware and plates.

Public health expert Dr. Shaniece Criss applauded these efforts and suggested that restaurants can also maintain social distance using technology.

“Some people might want to order using their phone, so there’s ways to order on mobile apps,” said Criss, who is an assistant professor of health sciences at Furman University. “Also, there’s ways to pay without having to have contact,” she said.

Open air patios, balcony, rooftops, parking lots, and sidewalks are included as “outdoor seating areas,” according to the guidelines from the SCRLA.

“We will try to be flexible and creative in addressing restaurantsโ€™ needs and, above all, assuring social distancing. This includes closing portions of Main Street if necessary to meet spacing needs,” said Greenville Mayor Knox White.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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