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Connecticut restaurant owners worry about changes in Massachusetts

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    SPRINGFIELD, MA (WFSB) — Connecticut restaurants worry that a change in Massachusetts coronavirus policies will cut into their bottom line.

Gov. Charlie Baker announced on Thursday that he will rescind his state’s Mandatory Early Closure of Businesses Order, as well as an overnight Stay at Home Advisory.

Baker said both will come to an end as of 5 a.m. on Jan. 25.

The rescinded orders mean businesses such as restaurants, casinos, and movie theaters will once again be allowed to stay open past 9:30 p.m.

Baker said Phase 3, Step 2 businesses must still remain closed and the temporary 25 percent capacity and gathering limits remain in effect until Feb. 8.

Connecticut businesses pleaded with Gov. Ned Lamont to make the same change so they don’t have even more trouble trying to turn a profit.

“Our schools are just reopening, our high school sports is just coming back, colleges are just coming back. We had a couple of the extremely contagious strains of the virus, so I think it’s really prudent to take a look in the next couple of weeks, but I appreciate the trend,” Lamont said.

Starting next week, it will be somewhat of an uneven playing field and restaurants that are on the Massachusetts border are hoping they’ll be able to compete.

It’s been nearly a year since the coronavirus hit Connecticut. Angelina’s in Enfield is no different than any other industry. Connie Mendoza said operating the family owned restaurant has never been harder.

“Different hours, not having much business,” Mendoza said.

Angelina’s has the plastic partitions, sanitizer, and online menus, all trying to earn the trust of customers while also proving to the state they can stay open later than 9:30 p.m.

“We follow all the rules, gloves, masks in the kitchen, use the proper sanitation,” Mendoza said.

Angelina’s is just a five-minute drive to Massachusetts and they fear they may be on the losing side of this role reversal.

“We’ve seen people from Massachusetts come to Connecticut when we had the indoor dining and when they were closed also with outdoors, so I believe that people will go out and try to find a place where they can stay out later,” Mendoza said.

So, until Connecticut drops the restrictions, border businesses like Angelina’s will lean heavily on loyal customers made over the last decade.

“I like to support the town businesses and the places we go to a lot,” said Nick LaFleur.

Lamont said he will revisit lifting these restrictions in the next couple of weeks. All along he says he’ll follow the science.

On Thursday, Dr. Anthony Fauci did say the vaccines have been effective, but the nation is still in a very serious situation.

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