Autiello plans resolution to address bar closure times

Autiello plans resolution to address bar closure times

NORTH PROVIDENCE – Town Council President Dino Autiello says that while he appreciates “the state’s positive response” to the council’s earlier resolution calling for restaurants to be allowed to reopen for normal operating hours, once again he believes new guidelines are not going far enough to help small businesses.

Autiello said he will be calling for a council resolution this week asking the state to also allow bar areas to remain open until normal closing times.

“With the protective measures owners were forced to put in place protecting the bar area, there is no rationale for an 11 p.m. closing,” he said. “I hope other cities and towns will join us.”

The initial North Providence resolution, related to early closing times for restaurants, won support from elected leaders around the state. The state ended up changing the restrictions after an outcry.

Autiello, who previously battled a bout of COVID-19 himself despite taking precautions against it, maintains that the town and state can keep people safe while also allowing restaurants to operate. His main contention is that if shoppers can be allowed to crowd big box stores such as Walmart and Target, they should also be allowed to patronize local restaurants with common sense precautions in place.

Autiello said patrons of an establishment are even more protected in the bar area than the main restaurant area, with Plexiglas and distance separating everyone. He said his resolution will ask the General Assembly or governor to reverse the 11 p.m. cutoff time for bar areas. The main reasoning there is that infection rates are lower now than when bar owners were still allowed to stay open until 1 a.m., he said.

“It’s not really making sense,” he said. “We have 31 liquor licensees in town, and they need all the help they can get.”