Local restaurants react to possibility of reopening

MEDFORD, Ore. — Face masks and temperature checks may soon be required at your favorite Oregon restaurant.

Guidelines for this ’new normal’ outlined in a draft for reopening restaurants and businesses by Governor Kate Brown.

At this time, the draft’s guidelines have not been implemented across the state.

“We truly are built to be an in-house restaurant so for us, moving entirely to take out and to-go has been a really big shift,” said Rachel Coning, co-owner of Common Block Brewing Company in Medford.

Coning says business has gone down substantially since the shutdown.

She says they’re willing to do whatever it takes to reopen.

“Luckily, we have a really big open space here which basically means we have this blank canvas,” she said. “However we need to move and arrange tables, arrange our waiting area.”

According to the governor’s draft, that could include:

  • keeping a record of customers names, contact information, and date and time of visit
  • increasing physical space for workers and customers
  • a limit of 10 people in a group
  • considering regular health checks, such as temperature and respiratory symptom screenings for employees and visitors

“I understand the eagerness to open and get back to quote on quote normal, but I feel like we need to see more science-based evidence that this is absolutely, totally okay to do,” said Leslie Caplan, co-owner of Blue Toba in Ashland.

Caplan says they’d rather stick to take-out and curbside service.

She says they already have limited seating capacity and collecting customer’s contact information sounds challenging.

“We’re so busy and so tiny,” she said. “I think we’d have to hire another person just to stand there and do that. In a way, this confirms my feeling and our feeling to just stay what we’re doing.”

Despite having different reactions to reopening, both restaurants agree safety comes first.

“We like to lean towards cautious and wait till we find out if there is going to be a second wave,” said Caplan.

“We are willing to be flexible and make it work for everybody,” said Coning.

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