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Washington restaurants navigate limited capacity and face masks

Restaurants have taken extra precautions like adding Plexiglass to the front counter and having employees wear gloves to slow the spread of coronavirus.

SEATTLE — It's the first weekend of required face masks for people heading out in public around the state, which means there are more regulations for restaurants who were just recently allowed to welcome people back inside.

At Jack's BBQ in SODO, they’ve added plexiglass behind the front counter, workers wear masks and gloves, and the dining room looks completely different with the majority of tables moved out and the remaining ones more than six feet apart.

“We had four times as many (tables), we're at one-fourth capacity,” owner Jack Timmons explained.  “We didn't bump it or change it for 2.0. We could have, but the tables aren't full,” he said. “People still are afraid to go out to eat.”

The outdoor seating is more popular with those who do come to eat at the restaurant, and now there are mask restrictions. The restaurant tells customers they have to wear their masks until they're at the table. Restaurant owners said so far, people seem to comply.

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“If there is somebody not wearing a mask, we offer them one,” Timmons said.

The take-out business has been steady for months, they expanded that part of the business to three other locations. They hope more people will soon feel comfortable, wearing a mask, and coming back inside to make that personal connection.

“When you sit at the table and take your face mask off... you've got a cold beer in front of you and a plate of brisket and it's all good,” Timmons said.

The city of Seattle recently eased restrictions on outdoor dining and many restaurants are scrambling to add more capacity outside, something that could encourage more people to eat out.

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