FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) -- Allen County Health Officials announced additional public health restrictions in response to the soaring number of coronavirus cases on Tuesday.
New restrictions on bars and restaurants are forcing businesses to cut back hours and lay off employees.
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“This week we will move from orange to red,” Allen County Health Commissioner Dr. Matthew Sutter said.
Sutter fears for how this impending winter will continue the surge in cases.
“I want to avoid unnecessary deaths," he said. "We know that people will die this winter. They will die of this disease. I want to make sure they can get the best care possible.”
In order to lower the death rate, Sutter is imposing the following restrictions on bars and restaurants:
- Indoor seating will operate at 50 percent capacity.
- Operations are restricted from midnight to 5 a.m.
- There will be no bar seating allowed.
- There will be no self-service or buffets.
“My heart goes out to the business owners too," Sutter said. "There are many good people who will be hurt by this pandemic."
One of those business owners is Sonja Aghabekian.
The Paula's on Main owner says her restaurant will have to adapt to the new restrictions for everyone’s safety and wellbeing.
‘We don't want to be at 50 percent, but if we have to we’re gonna have to try and make it work for the sake of our employees and the community,” Aghabekian said.
Even before the new COVID restrictions were announced, popular seafood restaurant had a “no shirt, NO MASK, no service” policy.
After the announcement this morning, Paula’s management has been working on a plan of action for their restaurant.
“We are definitely going to have to cut back on our numbers and actually lay people off,” she said.
For months, they’ve had a mask mandate in their restaurant, that hasn’t always been met with a positive response.
Diners who come in and refuse to comply are turned away from service.
"We would rather they leave, as opposed to having someone come in who doesn't have a mask on and walk around the restaurant," Aghabekian said.
Deer Park Irish Pub is prepared to reduce capacity to 50 percent.
Owner Tony Henry jokingly says the pub holds 45 patrons and he’s ready to welcome 22.5 customers in the coming weeks.
“We want to listen and react and respond to what our city officials are asking of us,” Henry said.
The bar is open until 3 a.m., and will now have to shut it’s doors earlier.
Henry says that he’s not concerned about losing those additional three hours of business.
“I'm finding the longer I'm in this business people tend to shut down around midnight,” he said.
You can view the full health order below.