Cayman’s restaurants reopen for outdoor service

Cayman Islands residents ventured out to restaurants and bars on Sunday for the first time since coronavirus lockdown measures began in March.

Patrons filled outdoor patios, as indoor seating remains out of bounds. While social distancing meant fewer available tables, customers and staff indicated they were happy to return to some sense of ‘normal’.

Walter Fajette, owner of Agua, said staff and customers alike were excited to venture out and see familiar faces again. Reservations there on Sunday were mostly booked, even with a temporary extension of its outdoor space granted by Camana Bay.

Fajette said police officers checked in periodically to ensure public health measures were being enforced.

The reopening has come with extra cleaning costs, and the question remains on how to accommodate outside guests during a rainstorm. But Fajette said staff are focussing on the positive.

“We’re happy to be here, even if we’re earning less,” he said.

“You can’t compare it to a regular month and what it used to be.”

Marketstreet’s Steve Shienfield said workers at the group’s restaurants, including Mizu Asian Bistro and The Waterfront, have felt a weight taken off their shoulders.

“It feels like a little bit of normalcy returning. Everything’s on the up,” he said.

Before reopening, he said staff were careful to distance tables 8 feet apart, using a string to measure the perimeter around each one.

At Fidel Murphy’s and The Kitchen, patrons were given an extra foot of distance, with tables placed 9 feet apart.

Business owner John Dunne said the reopening meant investing in extra sanitation measures and buying new tables and chairs, but customers were happy to accommodate health restrictions. The bar and restaurant implemented a three-tiered reservation system, with customers booked at 10am, 1:30pm or 5pm, to allow staff to sanitise the seating area between groupings.

One patron, Brendan McDonnell, sat between two tables of friends, who had booked separate seating, grouped near each other.

“It’s just good to get back to it,” McDonnell said. “It’s a little bit strange because we’re [sitting] so far from our friends but we feel a little closer now.”

Over in East End, Tukka implemented paperless menus, accessible by QR code on cellphones.

“We capped today at 100 reservations to train and maintain the safety precautions throughout the day’s service,” said owner Ron Hargrave.

“Our guests were very excited to be back out to Tukka and East End, enjoying the island breeze and ocean view.”

A list of restaurants and bars that are reopening this week can be found here.

Additional reporting by Vicki Wheaton.

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