Some businesses still at reduced capacity, unable to take advantage of newly-lifted restrictions

PRINCETON, WV (WOAY) – Governor Jim Justice announced that COVID-19 restrictions on business would be lifted.

Bars and restaurants can now use 100% of their seating, as long as social distancing can be maintained, and capacity limits have been lifted from small business and retail. 

The lifted restrictions will let small businesses across the state flourish, but not all can fully take advantage of the situation.

The Sophisticated Hound, a brewery in Downtown Princeton, says even with restrictions being lifted, they still have to be at reduced capacity.

“If you look at the guidelines, he opened it up to 100% capacity, but you still have to stay within that social distancing guideline,” the brewery’s owner Matt Barnett said. “And our space won’t allow us to do that, so we’re staying at 50% capacity for the time being.”

The Sophisticated Hound has been at 50% capacity since March 17 2020 when restrictions were first put in place. Adding just one table or extra chair would prevent them socially distancing and even with most restrictions being lifted, they would still be in violation of the law. This is something many chain restaurants don’t have an issue with, because they have much more space in their buildings.

“From what I understand, a lot of the franchise restaurants out on I-77 are operating at 100% capacity now, maybe a little less. As far as I know, we’re the only ones staying at 50% capacity around here.”

Before restrictions were put in place the Sophisticated Hound could make full use of their outdoor space, fit an extra eight tables indoors and they used to have live music every Saturday. Despite not having these any longer, they are hopeful that restrictions will continue to ease in the future 

“I’m hoping in the coming months that vaccines keep going out and restrictions start easing up. We’re missing about 40-50 chairs in here right now, so that would help us out a lot.”

While restrictions on bars, restaurants and retail stores have been lifted, the public mask mandate remains in place.

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