By Ayah Galal
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) – As the positivity rate continues to climb in Connecticut, Hartford has reinstated its indoor mask mandate.
This comes as many restaurants in the capital city have already been struggling amid the pandemic.
Banh Meee opened its Ann Uccello Street restaurant in Hartford just weeks before the pandemic hit in 2020.
“I think they have the best sandwich in the area,” said Ryan Byrnes of West Hartford. “I think that’s one thing we’re missing in greater Hartford is great sandwiches, so I’ll recommend the Banh Meee down here.”
While business has gone up a bit in the last year, owner G Tran says the times are still tough.
“Dine-in business is still pretty quiet but take-out business is pretty flat,” Tran said.
Before COVID, Tran says about 50 percent of business was takeout.
Now, about 90 percent is take-out and 10 percent of customers dine in.
This week, Hartford reinstated its indoor mask mandate.
“I think it’ll impact business a little bit,” Tran said.
Restaurant owners think more people will return to takeout.
“I understand it. Obviously, it’s a big spike right now,” Byrnes said.
“When you turn the page into January and February, it’s really about survival for these restaurants,” said Scott Dolch, Executive Director of the Connecticut Restaurant Association.
Dolch says while he hopes the mandate doesn’t negatively impact restaurants, Hartford has been dealt a tough hand.
“I love the city of Hartford and I don’t want to have to see any more businesses close their doors. I know the mayor feels the same way. We’re just trying to find the best solutions to get through it,” Dolch said.
Regular customers say in the meantime, they’ll continue doing their best to support local restaurants.
“It’s absolutely important. I mean it’s part of social contract,” said Sal Lena of Higganum.
Hartford’s indoor mask mandate will continue through the end of January.
Doctors say case numbers are expected to start decreasing by early February.