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Despite capacity bump, rules leave many small restaurants unable to expand

no seating

OWEGO (WBNG) -- Local restaurants are reacting to news that starting May 19, restaurants can increase their capacity to 100% according to Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Restaurants are still required to keep diners six feet apart absent proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.

For some smaller restaurants like Mario's Pizza in Owego, the announcement leaves them still unable to fill their dining room.

That's because management says they don't have the space to fit additional tables while still spaced six feet apart.

"We're set up to seat 99 people," said co-owner Gina Pettinato-Hooker. "We do have the 6 foot distancing between the tables but with the capacity increasing we don't have the square footage."

She stressed that the restaurant welcomes any easing of restrictions, because the more customers they can get in the door, the easier it will be for their staff to make up for financial losses experienced during the past year.

Jack Arpey

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