Gates were put up on May 5, and by the end of the week alfresco dining was ready for use at many restaurants in West Hartford Center and Blue Back Square.
By Ronni Newton
Conservators at West Hartford Center and Blue Back Square wereted no time spreading their footprints in the open-air catering corrals that Department of Public Works employees created with concrete and plastic barriers, priming the seasonal transformation process which last year not only helped pandemic restaurants, but also brought a European touch and increased vibrancy to the community.
Despite the cold rain on Wednesday morning, crews deployed barriers along Farmington Avenue – where the Metropolitan District Commission was able to complete a water main project on time – as well as on LaSalle Road, the Main Street South, Memorial Road and Isham Road.
Bob Cooke, managing partner of Max’s Oyster Bar on Farmington Avenue in West Hartford Center, immediately got to work preparing the restaurant’s expanded outdoor space. The teams began the deployment in front of Max’s Oyster Bar, and within hours, Cooke and several of his employees were setting the tables.
By noon on Thursday, most restaurants already had tables and chairs filling the corrals so they could be used.
According to the City of West Hartford, approximately 460 additional outdoor dining seats will be created through the installation of the corrals, creating an additional total dining area of âânearly 15,000 square feet.
The spaces will be subject to additional customization throughout the season, with colorful umbrellas, plantings and lights to make each corral unique.
And later this month, the barrier surfaces will be even more beautified as ArtBarrier murals are created on the cement surfaces. Local artists have been commissioned by the West Hartford Art League to lead the creative efforts.
The murals crowdfunding campaign far exceeded the goal of $ 5,500 to qualify for a grant from the CT Sustainable Community Matching Fund, raising $ 7,435 from 113 clients.
On Sunday May 16, a Community Painting Day will be held to paint the barriers at Blue Back Square, and Sunday May 23 will be Community Painting Day at West Hartford Center. More information on how to register as a volunteer will be available soon.
Renderings of the corral layout and an overview of the parking and traffic changes can be viewed here.
As of May 19, all COVID-19 restrictions on businesses are expected to expire, with the exception of the indoor mask mandate.
For restaurants, this means that it will no longer be necessary for tables to be spaced at least 6 feet apart or separated by a barrier such as plexiglass. Many establishments are likely to keep plexiglass in place or maintain extra spacing, especially when using additional outdoor seating, as customers gradually develop a greater level of comfort with indoor dining.
While the The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently revised their guidelines on the need to wear masks outdoors, especially in spaces that are not crowded or by those who have been vaccinated, signs asking people to wear masks remain in place in West Hartford Center, where many sidewalks are narrow.
At this time, there are no plans to remove the signage. âWe will be keeping the signs in place until we receive further advice from the state by May 19,â said City Manager Matt Hart.
COVID-19 cases have declined significantly in West Hartford in recent weeks. According to data reported by the state on Friday, there were only two new cases among residents, and only 33 last week.
West Hartford had gone from red alert to orange several weeks ago and, according to data released Thursday, is now in the “yellow” zone, with 8.9 new cases per 100,000 people on the island daily. based on an average of 14 days. This average reflects the 14-day period from April 18 to May 1.
Vaccination rates in West Hartford continue to be high, with 65.03% of all residents having received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. This percentage is based on the city’s overall population and includes residents 15 and under who are not yet eligible. The graphs below, provided by the state, show the high levels of immunization for other age groups.
The state has awarded the West Hartford-Bloomfield Health District a share of $ 13 million in federal grants to be used to form partnerships between local health, community organizations and providers to promote and increase the vaccine equity.
Director Aimee Krauss said the health district will receive $ 156,481. Much of this will be used to organize evening and weekend clinics in Bloomfield, but Krauss also said that more efforts have been made in West Hartford to organize vaccination clinics for food service workers and children. salon employees. the clinic in the old ShopRite store at 46 Kane St. in West Hartford, which administers the Moderna vaccine, has also been added to the state’s list of walk-in vaccine locations..
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