As more and more Vermont businesses are allowed to reopen, local businesses are cautiously following suit. The Hyde Away in Fayston opened its grounds for outdoor dining at 25 percent capacity on Friday, May 22, and Tucker Hill Lodge, Fayston, will open its restaurant for outdoor dining at reduced capacity this Friday, May 29.
The Hyde Away also opened a limited number of rooms for Vermont residents or out-of-state guests who’d met the requirement for a 14-day quarantine. Owner Ana Dan said that those three rooms and house open directly to the outdoors and allowed them to have contactless visits.
"The restaurant reopening went well. It was a little slower start on Friday, but Saturday and Sunday were really good, solid days," Dan said. She said that they were currently in the process of tenting the entire backyard to allow people to get out of the sun and rain.
Kevin Begin at Tucker Hill Lodge has initially planned to open for lodging on May 22, but opted against it due to staffing issues and the inability to get organized fast enough.
“It was a lot of hoops to jump through and to be told on Wednesday that you can accept reservations for Friday didn’t give us much time,” Begin said.
Begin has created new outdoor seating to begin offering sit-down dining, in addition to the takeout that he has been offering. Seating is limited due to state regulations but also because of staffing issues. While he is ready to accept lodging customers, he said his phone hasn’t been ringing off the hook.
“Our summer clientele tend to be a more senior set and they should be a bit more concerned about this because they are slightly more vulnerable. I think people are very nervous and scared. Our winter guests are mostly skiers and they’re younger,” Begin said.
Begin is excited about being able to offer sit-down dining again. He said that while takeout has been really good and helped keep him sane, it wasn’t enough to pay the bills.
Begin said he thinks people are going to be very happy to be able to eat a meal at a restaurant again and said he’s eaten in an asphalt parking lot in this week’s extreme heat, sitting at a picnic table eating with plastic utensils on a paper plate.
“I could not believe how awesome it was. It was incredible. I had the time of my life,” he said.
In Warren, Peter and Susan MacLaren, owners of the West Hill House Bed and Breakfast, are planning to be closed at least until the end of June. Peter MacLaren noted that the 14-day quarantine requirement for out-of-state guests remains in place until June 15. He said that Vermont guests typically make up about 5% of their overnight visitors.
“Guests are required to sign a Vermont Department of Health certificate of compliance regarding COVID-19 exposure ‘under the pains and penalties of perjury.’ We anticipate that guests will balk at signing it. Guests and staff will have to wear masks, other than presumably in their guest room, and we can't serve breakfast in the dining room. And cleaning requirements are pretty overwhelming. The constraints are likely to make staying in a B&B or inn not especially appealing for guests,” MacLaren said.
He noted that because of their age, he and Susan are in the high-risk category and said they were reluctant to open their doors to others at this point.
“Our biggest concern, which I am sure will be shared by others, is whether the fall foliage season will be a bust. So far we are still getting bookings and no cancellations for that season, so we are just holding our breath. If the foliage visits do not come, and/or if we are still operating under some restrictions that limit our capacity, it will be disastrous for us, the statewide tourism industry and the associated state tax revenues,” MacLaren said.