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Local restaurants adapting to coronavirus changes

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POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Governor Brad Little announced Wednesday that people should avoid eating or drinking in bars and restaurants to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

While these are recommendations now, Little said mandatory measures could be on the horizon depending on the extent of the virus outbreak.

Health departments are not yet mandating that restaurants close dine-in hours.

“I know some places and some states that is a requirement: either all drive-through or all to-go orders. Right now the science is basically saying that as long as we practice those good hygiene, stay home if you’re sick, those sort of things, it hasn’t really been an issue. That could change, but for now, that’s the recommendation we’re going with,” said Steve Pew, Southeastern Idaho Public Health's environmental health director.

Local restaurants are making tough decisions to maintain safety and keep business running.

“We’re not making any changes unless we absolutely have to,” said Taste of Hawaii owner, Mark Cruse.

“We’re just going with the flow. If they tell us we can’t do dine-in anymore, we’ll stick to delivery. We’ll make it work for everybody,”  Cruse said.

Local cafe, Red Hot Roasters, closed it's doors until April. Other restaurants are taking less severe measures.

Villano's Italian in Pocatello is ramping up delivery, take out and cleaning procedures.

“We’ve removed all silverware, all utensils off of tables. We are ramping up how often we sanitize door handles, tables, cooler handles, that sort of thing,” said Aaron Villano, the owner of Villano's Italian.

That may not be enough to keep business booming.

“We could see it slowing down a little bit with people coming in. But people have been supporting us pretty good," Cruse said.

“Deliveries and to-go orders are balancing some of the foot-traffic issues that are happening,” Villano said.

With the state recommending people avoid dining in, service industry workers are wondering if they'll be tipped enough to stay afloat during the pandemic.

Villano is hoping to maintain a steady income for his employees.

“We are responsible for them and their families at this point. So when it comes to the business, we have to try to balance safety and health with staying open as long as possible so they can make a paycheck to support their families during these trying times,” Villano said.

Villano's Italian serves food to homeless and low income people daily.

“We plan to continue to do that as long as we possibly can. Obviously, something like the coronavirus can get in the way of things like that, but for right now, we feel it’s very important,” Villano said.

“It’s disconcerting, it really is, I think we’re all feeling the strain,” he said.

Villano takes comfort in supporting local businesses.

“We really need to do that as far as keeping our little community and neighborhood viable through all this as much as possible,” Villano said.

Business Watch / Coronavirus Coverage / Economy / Food / Idaho / Local News / Pocatello / Videos
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Emma Iannacone

Emma is a reporter for Local News 8 and KIDK Eyewitness News 3.


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