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Mixed reactions to lifting COVID-19 social distancing and capacity restrictions

Some Virginia Beach business owners and employees have mixed reactions about the state choosing to lift all COVID-19 measures.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — On Friday, Governor Ralph Northam lifted COVID-19 restrictions for capacity and social distancing. Some business owners in Hampton Roads are excited about the return to normal while others are staying cautious. 

The social distancing stickers inside Virginia Beach's Apex Entertainment were lifted, taken off, and thrown away.

“We're just happy we can open up. It’s been a long year for us and life’s going back," said Apex Entertainment General Manager Andrew Lofaro. 

Lofaro is following the newest state guidelines and is excited about filling up his business to capacity again. 

“I feel it’s a sense of normalcy but again, people out there still want to be safe. I think there are people on guard still and we want to obviously make them feel comfortable too. Allowing them to come in and have a good time.”

However, for some business owners, the lifting of the COVID-19 measures is bittersweet.

“We’re not prepared to receive the world reopening," said Alkaline and Baby Izakaya restaurants owner Kevin Ordonez. 

Ordonez owns two restaurants in Norfolk and Virginia Beach. He explained there are some issues the restaurant industry is working with now making it tough to serve customers.

“The biggest issue is staffing. I would say 90 percent of the restaurants I know of are having the same exact problem finding people to staff their restaurants to work," said Ordonez. 

Ordonez explained his restaurants are open, but he's staying cautious for now.  

“So we’re going to take the safe route. We’re going to go slow and let things kind of play out naturally in a way that we feel comfortable reopening all of our seating," said Ordonez. 

The Zeiders American Dream Theater is also changing its seating arrangements due to the lifted restrictions.

“Taking our seating and having one section dedicated to socially distance seating if people are still want to sit away from others rather than a shoulder to shoulder and the other part of the theater will be shoulder to shoulder," said Zeiders American Dream Theater Marketing Director James Bryan.

Right now, not all restrictions are lifted. People still have to wear masks when flying, in mobile transit, or going to a public school.