Georgetown restaurant owner defies state order by offering sit-down dining – The News Journal

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Headlines May 6, 2020

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One southern Delaware restaurant owner has had enough of the coronavirus restrictions.

In a video posted on Facebook, Michael Oxbrough from Cafe on the Circle in Georgetown says he’s going to allow customers to sit at tables outside his small restaurant if they want, despite the state’s restrictions on sit-down service.

“Needless to say, as I’ve said and I’ve told people, I’m done with it,” he said in the video posted on Monday. “So we’re open for sitting.”

On Wednesday, Oxbrough explained that he’s not offering wait service to people – only take-out – and then allowing them to use the tables set up outside.

He said his restaurant is already limited to 10 people and that his patio tables are about 12 feet apart, while tables out front are about 8 feet apart. He’s already too small to have wait staff or offer full sit-down service.

“Somebody can get my take-out food and walk down and sit on the park bench on The Circle and sit down and eat,” he said. Wouldn’t it be better to let them sit in a controlled environment that’s monitored and cleaned regularly, he asked.

“The bottom line is that people are just really fed up with this,” he said. “I think this whole thing, really it’s about choice and we need to be able to get our choices known out there and let people make informed decisions, which we are.”

He questioned who determines whether businesses can safely maintain social distancing, especially since restaurants like his are used to dealing with hygiene, sanitation and oversight from government agencies.

“Me personally, though, I’ve had about enough of it,” he said in the video. “We’re not getting direction, or at least clear and concise direction from our governor and our state.”

Gov. John Carney limited restaurants and bars to take-out, delivery and curbside service in his state of emergency for the coronavirus on March 16. That order has not been lifted.

The 19947 zip code, which includes the Town of Georgetown, is part of Sussex County’s hot spot for COVID-19 cases. The area is seeing positive cases at a rate of about 36 per 1,000 people compared to the state’s rate of about 5.5 per 1,000 people, according to state data.

It is immediately unclear if state officials will intervene in Oxbrough’s plan to allow his customers to sit and eat their lunch. Oxbrough said he’s not worried about it because he believes he’s not breaking any rules or any of the state’s emergency orders in place during the pandemic.

Contact reporter Maddy Lauria at (302) 345-0608, [email protected] or on Twitter @MaddyinMilford.

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