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Restaurant owners enforce new limits on patrons in wake of pandemic

Habitual violators are subject to civil penalties and arrest, but Chief Katz says he hopes it doesn't get to that point.
Posted at 12:05 AM, Mar 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-19 00:05:26-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- While police don't plan on patrolling local restaurants in search of those violating the 10-patron-limit rule, they plan on visiting establishments that receive continual complaints.

The Ettrick Deli in Richmond has a different atmosphere lately. Business has slowed down for owner John Saba, while his anxiety is on the rise.

"We've put some signage up that limits the number of customers," said Saba. "I don't know where we will go from here, but right now we feel the effect. I hope it doesn't get worse."

On top of keeping everything sanitary and everyone’s hands washed, Saba along with every other restaurant owner, will also play the role of fire marshal, limiting the seating for customers who want to stay and eat.

"Everybody understands that the limit is 10 patrons in a restaurant, gym or movie theatre and anything beyond that is subject to being enforced," said Saba.

Chesterfield Police Chief Jeff Katz said that while the change is hopefully temporary, it has to be taken seriously.

"This is not something we will proactively go out and enforce,” said Katz. “This entire community is coming together nicely. We have people that will always skirt the edges on what they are allowed to do and I think orders like this are intended for them. We aren't looking to drop the hammer on anybody but we are looking to make sure as a community we are operating as safely as possible.”

Habitual violators are subject to civil penalties and arrest, but Chief Katz says he hopes it doesn't get to that point.