At least 28 restaurant owners in the City of Pittsfield have signed a petition in an effort to persuade local officials to let them reopen their restaurants for indoor dining. The effort comes after the Pittsfield Department of Health issued an emergency order on November 12th suspending table service at restaurants in the city. That order immediately went into to effect the very next day.

Pittsfield is the only municipality in Berkshire County, and the only one in Massachusetts with that standing order in place – and that is making it difficult on Pittsfield restaurants because city residents that would like to eat inside a restaurant can go anywhere else inside or outside the county to do so. Restaurants here in the city are still permitted to do carry-out and delivery.

The petition was started by Craig Benoit, who owns The Hot Dog Ranch on West Housatonic Street in Pittsfield. Benoit told the Berkshire News Network that he has sent emails to the Mayor’s Office asking for accommodations to make it possible to resume indoor dining. He said that he was told in response that the Health Department order stems from large gatherings at restaurants in the city, none of which, Benoit says, are his. Benoit says that he has had to lay-off 20 employees. He argues that its not fair that the only industry that Mayor Tyer shut down was the restaurant industry, while people can still do things like go to the grocery store, get a haircut, and get their nails done.

According to Benoit, when he went to City Hall to deliver the petition to Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer on Monday afternoon, he was told that the Mayor was unavailable to see him. Benoit says that he has been given no guidance as to when his and the other restaurants in the city might be able to reopen for indoor dining.

The Berkshire News Network reached out to the Mayor Office by email late Monday night. The city’s Director of Administrative Services, Roberta McCulloch-Dews responded, saying that Mr. Benoit indeed reached out to the Mayor yesterday (Sunday) and she engaged with him directly via email.

According to McCulloh-Dews, the Mayor indicated to Mr. Benoit that she could not meet him at 3 pm, a time which he put forward, as she had a prior meeting that took her out of the office and that she would meet with him at an alternate date. She says he was then encouraged to connect with the office to schedule a time.

She further said that as Mayor Tyer was not available due to her prior meeting, she and executive assistant, Catherine Van Bramer, met with him to accept his petition and identify a suitable date for him and the fellow restaurant owners to meet with the Mayor.

A Zoom meeting for the restaurant owners and city officials was scheduled to take place this (Tuesday) Morning.

[This post may be updated]

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