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Restaurants say latest restrictions are 'nails in the coffin' for service industry

Service industry businesses have said they fear the restrictions will last longer than three weeks and worry the city will see more restaurants close permanently.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — As part of the latest Kentucky restrictions announced by Gov. Andy Beshear Wednesday afternoon, restaurants and bars will now see a shutdown to indoor dining. It's coming at a time many business owners say is their peak season during the wintertime. 

"You just can't sacrifice anymore. It is just beyond devastating," Alan Hincks, owner of Dundee Tavern said. 

The announcement came as a "shock" for bars and restaurants, with owners saying they expected to have some indoor capacity still allowed, rather than a full shutdown inside for the next three weeks.

"I was shocked. I didn't know it would be pretty much a shut down. I thought maybe we would be restricted to 25% again or something like that so I was surprised," Rick Bartlett, owner of Ricky B's Club Cafe, said. 

The mandate on bars and restaurants takes effect Friday, Nov. 20 at 5 p.m. and lasts until Sunday, Dec. 13 until 11:59 p.m.

RELATED: Here are Kentucky's new COVID-19 restrictions

"The nails in the coffin now are there when it comes to the mandates coming down," Hincks said. 

Restaurants like Dundee Tavern can still operate with heaters and tents on outdoor patios, as well as provide carry-out, but Hincks said all businesses will still be hard hit leading into winter.

"We are being targeted as an industry," Hincks said. "You're going back into something that this industry can't survive doing this and the impact on this is just incredible," Hincks said. 

For those without patios or any form of outdoor dining, like Ricky B's Club Cafe on Brownsboro Rd. the new restrictions will even further limit the ability to serve. Bartlett first opened the doors to his restaurant mid-pandemic in July. 

"Yeah, well we're going to have to close," Bartlett said. "It's going to be harmful to everybody. It will be harmful to me, there's no ifs ands or buts about it."

Service industry businesses have said they fear the restrictions will last longer than three weeks and worry the city will see more restaurants close permanently.

"Absolutely we will. Absolutely. There's no way that you can survive," Hincks said. 

"The question will be after that is over, what? Will we go back to 50%. We just don't know so I'm looking at what's going to happen after that," Bartlett said. 

Gov. Andy Beshear said during his announcement Wednesday all of the new steps are "necessary." 

"The CDC, Johns Hopkins, Stanford University working with others have all released recent studies showing restaurant and bars are clearly spreading, if not the greatest spread, of Covid-19," Beshear said. "This is not and there will not be a shutdown. Our economy is open and there will be no categorizing businesses as essential or not essential."

"It is a rollercoaster and I never liked roller coasters," Bartlett said. 

Restaurant owners are asking the community for continued support during the three week period. 

"After this time is over when you can go out more, please go out support the places you enjoy," Bartlett said. "We will all get through it together. We'll bounce back together."

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