Understanding the Boston Licensing Board emergency meetings

In order to address public complaints and field questions in regard to Charlie Baker's newly announced restrictions for restaurants that were announced of August 10, 2020, the Boston Licensing Board opted to host four virtual emergency hearings. Particularly, three were created to address specific neighborhoods  — Allston/Brighton, the Seaport, and South Boston — the remaining meeting focused on beer gardens and large extensions. 

The Specifics

While there was a wide variety of things discussed at these virtual meetings, here are the key points:

  • Lines Must be Controlled: Although controlling the crowds can be challenging, it was made clear that restaurants are being given this task. Given that many areas have received a wide array of complaints in regard to lengthy lines, businesses must do their best to keep lines down, as well as ensure that everyone is wearing a mask and practicing social distancing. 

  • Allison/Brighton Restaurants Must Look Out for Students: Given that there were plenty of complaints about students in the area crowding around tables, dancing, adult dancing, etc., the board made it clear that there are to be no parties or shows held at any restaurants. Although students are technically adults, it was made clear that restaurants in the area need to keep an especially watchful eye on students and young adults. 

  • Shareable Foods Allowed: Although they weren't quite capable of defining what constitutes a "shareable food", it was made clear that the portions must be enough to serve the number of people sitting at the table. 

  • Food and Drink Orders: Additionally, the board also asserted that beverages and food must be ordered at the same time. This is a change from the norm, which allowed customers to order drinks while reviewing the menu. This is to ensure that customers are actually ordering food and not just out for a night of drinks. 

  • Keeping Diners Seated: Lastly, the board asserted that waitstaff should be tasked with bringing all food and beverages to the table, to avoid lines and clusters of diners from forming around the establishment. Nevertheless, if restaurants are able to allow their customers to retrieve their own food and drinks without lines or clustering, this may be acceptable. 

Restaurant Culture and COVID

Although many questions remain in regard to the new restrictions, the Boston Licensing Board maintains that their only goal is to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Nevertheless, it seems that it will be an uphill battle in terms of implementing and enforcing these new restrictions. 

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