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Shires' Restaurant Week reinvented as Takeout Week

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BENNINGTON — The Shires' annual Restaurant Week is starting as scheduled on Sunday but with a different name: Takeout Week.

The organizer, Southwestern Vermont Chamber of Commerce, decided to change the name to reflect the current mode of restaurant service. With dine-in services suspended in an effort to control the novel coronavirus outbreak, the chamber wanted to help get the word out that some restaurants are still open.

The event also was designed to boost restaurant business during slow seasons such as spring, and owners are currently experiencing a "hyper down time," said SVCC Executive Director Matt Harrington.

The chamber is featuring on its website a list of area establishments that's still offering food — even if they're not SVCC members. Ordinarily, non-members who want to participate in Restaurant Week are charged $150, but that fee has been waived.

"Now is an extenuating-circumstance kind of time, and we want to support them," Harrington said on Friday. "Our hope is that they pay it forward."

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As of midday Friday, some 35 establishments were listed on the site. They encompass restaurants, bars, delis, cafes, general stores, grocery stores scattered around Bennington, North Bennington, Manchester Dorset, as well as Peru and Woodford. It's important to note that some have reduced the days and hours they're open.

The chamber is hoping to put together a list of around 60 establishments by the time the event starts Sunday. It ends March 28.

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The chamber isn't asking participants to offer customers special deals like they do during Restaurant Week. Instead, Takeout Week is about customers showing restaurants special support during this difficult moment for the industry.

"This is the time when we can rally behind businesses," Harrington said.

The state ordered restaurants and bars to close from 2 p.m. Tuesday until at least April 6, part of statewide measures to battle the coronavirus epidemic. As of Friday afternoon, 29 Vermonters had tested positive for the virus, which causes the COVID-19 disease. Two died the previous day.

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For most people, the novel coronavirus results in only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and coughing. But for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. The vast majority of people recover.

At a time when people are taking extra care with washing their hands and disinfecting items they touch, Harrington wants to reassure the public that food establishments are bound by stringent health and sanitation standards.

"They have to meet so many more health requirements than us picking up groceries and cooking at home," he said. "Restaurants are probably cleaner than some of our houses."

Contact Tiffany Tan at ttan@benningtonbanner.com, @tiffgtan on Twitter or 802-447-7567 ext. 122.


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