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Restaurants ready for lifted restrictions

Owners and staff are looking forward to the restrictions being lifted, but businesses we talked with said things still won't be totally back to normal.

SCRANTON, Pa. — Commonwealth Coffeehouse on the corner of Penn and Lackawanna Avenues in Scranton opened up in February. Masks, social distancing, and occupancy restrictions are all the owners know, but things are starting to change.

The news from the governor that all restrictions except the mask mandate will be lifted on Memorial Day was welcomed by customers here.

RELATED: PA lifting COVID-19 restrictions by Memorial Day, mask order to remain in effect

"I feel glad," Patty Williams said. "I'm about ready to get my second COVID shot, and I'm ready to get back to some normalcy."

Owner Tom Bonin says he won't really feel like the restrictions are lifted until the major employers in the downtown, including the state and federal governments, start bringing their employees back to office buildings.

"We're losing 30, 40 percent of our business simply because people aren't at work, so if these mandates are lifted, and people are or feel comfortable going back to work, we should see the increase in revenue. And we're ready to do that now," Bonin said.

Every one of the restaurant owners we spoke with said this is good news, and they are looking forward to Memorial Day, but the lifting of restrictions doesn't solve all of their problems.

The owners of Cooper's Seafood House say it will still be a while until they can go back to 100 percent capacity.

"We probably won't have 100 percent capacity because we still don't have enough staff. Though we do have 80, 90 percent of our staff back, we still can't fully seat the restaurant, so we're waiting," Jack Cooper said.

Cooper says that date on the calendar is still something to look forward to and a sign that things are moving in the right direction.

"As people get vaccinated, it's definitely getting better, and the feeling much better than last year at this time."

The owners and customers we talked to said the benchmark they're most looking forward to is when enough people in the state are vaccinated—the governor says 70 percent of adults—and we can ditch the mask.