ARLINGTON, Va. (FOX 5 DC) - Bars and restaurants in Virginia will soon be able to serve alcohol past 10 p.m. Governor Ralph Northam announced Wednesday that he’s easing up on some COVID-19 restrictions in the Commonwealth.
Starting March 1, bars and restaurants can serve alcohol until midnight.
Restaurant managers and workers tell FOX 5 the eased restrictions will make a huge difference for business.
"The alcohol sales really, really help the restaurant’s business. Right now, people finish their drinks at 10 p.m. and go home and we barely make any money," said Youngi Berry, manager of MexiCali Blues in Arlington.
Berry says right now they can only afford a limited number of staff. She says those two additional hours of serving alcohol will make them at least $5,000 more dollars a night which means MexiCali Blues can bring back more employees.
"Moneywise, we can pay the employees. We can pay the vendor. We can pay the rent. Right now, we are just paying out of our pockets," Berry said.
Since December, bars and restaurants had to stop serving alcohol at 9:30 p.m. and people had to finish drinking by 10 p.m.
Some people tell FOX 5 they’re happy Gov. Northam is easing up on restrictions.
"I think definitely it’s time to ease up. I think they’re ready to come out. You don’t want to lock away or quarantine healthy people. We got to come out sooner or later we can’t hide forever," Derrick Smith, a customer at MexiCali Blues said.
Others tell FOX 5 they likely won’t take advantage of the extra bar time until the weather is nicer and they can do it safely from outside. Still, they say they’re excited it’s an option.
"It’s been a year at this point so it does get a little stir crazy," Christine Porter, another customer at MexiCali Blues said. "We probably won’t be in the nighttime scene just yet but when the summer rolls around and the outdoor bars are open, we’ll be a part of it."
The governor did emphasize that social distancing protocols do still need to be in place and bars and restaurants still cannot stay open past midnight.