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Health leaders concerned about how restaurants adapt tents for outdoor dining in colder temps

Published: Nov. 23, 2020 at 9:58 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Outdoor dining was the solution for restaurants across the state when indoor seating had its capacity cut.

It was an easy fix during the summer, but colder temperatures are making it a little trickier.

For J. Render’s Southern Table and Bar, the answer was adding sides to their outdoor tent and heaters inside.

“But, we were visited by the health department today and told that we could only have 50 percent of the sides up,” Co-owner Gwyn Everly said.

That sent Everly and many other restaurant owners back to the drawing board to try to figure out how to make sure their customers aren’t left out in the cold.

“We want to give every opportunity that is safe for restaurants to do outdoor dining,” Gov. Andy Beshear said in his COVID-19 briefing. “But, we do not want them to create what is basically an indoor area where it’s just spreading somewhere differently than their regular walls.”

Gov. Beshear said the state is now working on better guidance for what is acceptable for restaurants.

But, until then, owners like Everly are trying to figure it out as they go.

“You just don’t know what’s going to be thrown at you the next day and you’re always having to step back, evaluate, figure out what you’re going to do, and change your plan,” Everly said. “Everybody is tired but we’re doing what we have to do because we want to make it through for ourselves and for our employees so we’re just trying to hold it together.”

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