In its first year of operation, the Buzzards Bay Brewing Taproom along Main Street has had to change its plans several times because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s been a constant state (of changing),” said Bill Russell, owner of the business, which also has a location in Westport. “It’s like being in a jazz band.”
Throughout the summer, the taproom has had to improvise and rework how it operates, Russell said. Instead of opening the doors to its recently renovated new space, tables have been set up outdoors in the back of the building.
The most recent change requires patrons to order food before they order a beer, Russell said.
The change is subtle, changing the procedure by which staff take orders. But for the person visiting, it is a significant change from what they are used to, he said.
“We never meant to get into the food business,” Russell said.
The aim, he said, was to showcase the food from the neighboring Krua Thai restaurant. The new regulations threw “a little bit of a curveball on that.”
The taproom is offering its own food, too, with inexpensive options like $3 Saugy Hot Dogs and $5 charcuterie plates, Russell said.
Russell said he told his staff that “everything goes sideways this week.”
However, “I think we are doing OK,” he said.
“Looking at my customers it is heartbreaking to see how it has been so hard on people … none of this has been easy.”
On Aug. 7, Gov. Charlie Baker announced a new set of initiatives aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, in the state. Although the state has seen a decrease in cases and hospitalizations since May, there has been a slight uptick in certain communities in recent days.
On the Cape, the only two towns of concern were Barnstable and Falmouth, which had fewer than four cases per 100,000 people between July 26 and Aug. 8, according to the state Department of Public Health.
Because of the recent increase in positive cases, Step 2 in the third phase of the state’s reopening plan has been postponed indefinitely, Baker said.
The order, effective last week, reduces the limit on outdoor gatherings from 100 to 50 people. The limit on indoor gatherings remains at 25 people. These limits apply to public and private property.
Face masks are required where more than 10 people from different households will be mixing, the order states.
Restaurant rules were also updated. Alcoholic beverages may be served for on-site consumption only if accompanied by orders for food prepared on-site. Prepared food does not include potato chips, pretzels and other prepackaged or manufactured food.
The administration said it would be taking measures to ensure that “bars masquerading as restaurants” will be closed.
Public safety officials, including state and local law enforcement, have the jurisdiction to enforce these orders, and event hosts in violation will be subject to fines of up to $500 and cease-and-desist orders.
“We are doing the best to keep up with it,” said Taylor Hirst, sales manager for Hog Island Beer Co. in Orleans.
Employees have been going “week by week” adjusting to the new protocols, Hirst said. At the beginning of the season, Hog Island team members had a staff meeting where the owners said the protocols they put in place probably were going to differ in a week’s time, and “it continues to be,” he said.
The brewery has teamed up with Jailhouse Tavern, which is in the same building, to share a menu, Hirst said. There are some smaller things on the menu that people can order if they want to reserve a table outside, he said.
However, if people are still uncomfortable sitting outdoors, there is packaged beer for sale that patrons can take to go, Hirst said. The brewery has been selling beer to go since Memorial Day Weekend, he said.
Cocktails and other alcoholic drinks to-go have not been affected by this new order.
“It doesn’t make sense,” said David Delancey, owner of the Lobster Trap in Bourne. “Even dining in, you can’t order a drink until after you’ve ordered your food. These, I won’t say laws because they’re not, these rules are being made by people who have never worked in our industry.”
The restaurant industry is in “survival mode,” Delancey said. “And this whole thing has gotten very political. It’s frustrating.”
The new order has also added another level of frustration for those planning to get married.
“It’s crazy. There’s nothing that we can do about it,” said Jamie Bohlin of Cape Cod Celebrations, a wedding and event planning company. “We just roll with the punches.”
One couple getting married changed their guest count from 200 people to 60 and then again to 20 within the last few months, Bohlin said.
The majority of couples working with the company have canceled their big weddings in favor of hosting smaller backyard gatherings or are waiting until next year, Bohlin said.
“The wedding industry has taken a hard hit, and there is no real end in sight,” she said.
It might not be until there is a vaccine available that weddings can return to normal, Bohlin said. Right now, all the safety protocols in place have taken all the fun out it, she said.
Wedding officiant Annie Hart Cool said she has worked with one couple that was on their fourth planned wedding ceremony and just called it off again because of the governor’s revised order.
Another couple tried four times to get married and finally said, “we are just going to do it,” Cool said.
Jyl Deering of Deering Events said the vast majority of weddings are moving to 2021. Some couples had to trim their guest lists down from 150 to 100 guests and now are forced to choose again whom to cut, she said.
One group is even pondering having an event with 50 guests one day and 50 the next day, Deering said. However, that will be costly, she said.
“It is hard to social distance at a wedding,” Deering said. “People want to hug people and people want to get their pictures taken together.”
Follow Beth Treffeisen on Twitter: @BTreffeisenCCT.