HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -- Restaurants in Connecticut are pushing back, urging state leaders to allow them to stay open.
While some doctors are pushing Gov. Ned Lamont to stop indoor dining, restaurants have taken steps to make sure people are safe and are urging the governor not to shut them down.
“We invested on our outdoor dining space and we turned it into a winter wonderland,” described Jordan Dikegoros, owner of J Restaurant in Hartford. “We have heaters everywhere, we have enclosed our gazebos, we’ve forced hot air into them. We’ve proven you can be comfortable, even if it’s 32 degrees outside.”
Business at J Restaurant hasn't been good, as the pandemic has kept 25 percent of customers away.
However, Dikegoros has done quite a lot to keep patrons safe, including buying several heat lamps and gas fire pits, and turning what was once a parking lot into a winter wonderland.
He and many other restaurants have been investing money because they want to stay open.
“I don’t think its necessary. I think in the summer you saw our numbers were down low, and the restaurants were open with outdoor dining and we’ve proven we can keep people safe with social distancing. Our staff is taking all the precautions, we are wearing our masks," Dikegoros said.
Businesses have already suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic, and shutting them down completely could mean they won’t be able to reopen.
The CT Restaurant Association has started a campaign to save restaurants, and bring attention to what’s been happening, as more than 600 have closed during the pandemic.
With restaurants now only at half capacity, businesses are struggling to get by. They say they're following the state's guidelines so they can continue to serve customers.
“The rules they put out, we are adhering to, and I know a lot of the restaurants are. It's the safest we can be during this time and we want to stay open,” said Malcolm Wofsy, manager of Tavern on 3.
Patrons are taking precautions while supporting local restaurants.
“We felt safe coming here because we know there’s distance. Hopefully those restrictions are in place for the benefit of all of us, but hoping these restaurants will be able to come back,” said Mark Hanlon, of West Hartford.