NORTHAMPTON, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- The City of Northampton is holding off on lifting some COVID-19 restrictions. While the next step of Governor Charlie Baker's reopening plan allows restaurants in low-risk communities to increase their seating and capacity, the city has decided to halt on lifting the restrictions.

Northampton said it's not entering this next step because they think the risk is too great.

Although customers and restaurants would like to be able to have more people at tables or sit at bars, they understand this is more of a precaution to contain the spread of coronavirus.

“No, we’re not disappointed. By all means, we understand the circumstances as we’ve dealt with them since day one of reopening with our tent, our side box seats, and now indoor dinning," said the assistant general manager of Fitzwilly's restaurant, Ryan Keech.

Keech told Western Mass News they're perfectly comfortable with the restrictions the city has decided not to lift.

The restaurant also said they have been following all of the guidelines. But if a party of greater than six comes through their doors, they will try to accommodate.

“If we have a party that’s greater than six, by all means, we can sit them at multiple tables," he explained. "But they’re unable to get up and mingle.”

The Northampton Public Health Director Merridith O'Leary released a statement to Western Mass News on the latest development, saying:

"Despite our low-risk designation and eligibility to move forward into Step 2 of Phase 3 of Governor Baker’s reopening plan, the Northampton Board of Health ordered, on October 8, [that] indoor concert venues will not be allowed to open. Outdoor venues will only be allowed at 25 percent capacity with a limit of 50 people, and outdoor gatherings will continue to be limited to a capacity of no more than 50 people."

Northampton residents Sam Casler and Katie Shea said they aren't pressed on sitting at a bar.

“Even though you can go into a restaurant, we typically don’t sit down and eat still, unless it's outside. I don’t think the restriction matters as much as it might, because people are still mostly eating outside," Casler explained.

For Shea, she thinks limiting the number of people is a way to play it safe.

“In general, I think it’s a good idea to keep the social distancing in effect," she said.

The city also added that the mandatory face mask zone in downtown Northampton continues, with the only exception for eating, drinking, and smoking.

Copyright 2020 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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