SALT LAKE CITY — With the announcement that Salt Lake and Davis counties are moving from high to moderate level transmission guidelines, businesses in both counties are celebrating the move back to full capacity.
"Honestly, I feel so much hope for the first time in a year," said Katie Rae Curtis, manager of Farmington based restaurant Twigs Bistro and Martini Bar. "We've seen little progress, but I feel excited. I get chills talking about it."
Under the new guidelines restaurants in Salt Lake and Davis counties can now operate at full capacity, with six-foot distancing and masks still required in waiting areas and when patrons get up from their tables.
"Moderate level is a huge step in the right direction to get the restaurant industry on the road to recovery," said Melva Sine, President and CEO of the Utah Restaurant Association.
For Curtis, full capacity means increased revenues, but also the ability to increase staffing.
"We, right now, have to limit our staff to a certain amount of shifts per week," she said. "And with going full capacity we will be able to bring on more shifts. Which then in return is getting more money into the community's pocket for them to go out and support local restaurants or any local business."
The new guidelines also lift restrictions on event gatherings, which means spaces like the Hale Center Theatre in Sandy can also move to full capacity.
"It's a huge deal obviously monetarily it helps us where it's been a difficult industry to work inside of for a while," said Quinn Dietlein, Executive Director of Hale Center Theatre. "The other side of it is just the joy factor for the actors and the patrons. This is a two-way street."
After operating at 25% capacity for months, Dietlein was able to share the good news with some of the theatre's cast and crew during a rehearsal Wednesday night.
"There was twenty minutes of happy, muffled cheer going on in the whole group. It's a really exciting time for us," he said.
Despite the increased capacity, both businesses said health safety is still a major concern.
"Our standards inside our restaurant will not change," Curtis added. "As far as what our staff is expected to do for cleanliness, health standards that will not change."
"There is an extensive amount of procedures we've put in place, all those things are still in place," Dietlein said. "The biggest difference is that we can be shoulder to shoulder now as long as everyone is wearing masks."
Both Dietlein and Curtis said the move to moderate level guidelines feels like a light at the end of a year's long tunnel.