PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Unmasked gatherings with vaccinated people now have a green light from the CDC, but the move leaves Arizona restaurants in a tough spot.

With more people getting vaccinated, recommendations are changing about mask-wearing.

Restaurant owners want to keep people happy, but also safe, and they have state guidelines to follow too. The first mask change you may see is private parties at restaurants.

"We're probably one of the safest places you could go because our sanitation standards are so high. So we will maintain those sanitation standards," said Arizona Restaurant Association president Steve Chucri.

Chucri said it's not black and white for what restaurants can do right now.

"We're still under the executive order of Gov. (Doug) Ducey which requires masks in restaurants," he said.

Eating outside

It's not black and white for what restaurants can do right now.

Chucri said until that's lifted, you may not see much change, but restaurants are looking at different options.

"We're fortunate that our banquet rooms are completely separate from the rest of the restaurant," said Micah Wyzlic, managing partner at Phoenix City Grille.

Wyzlic said they will accommodate personal choice for private parties of vaccinated groups.

"If they book an event and say they're vaccinated, then we'll use the honor system and let them use common sense and decide if they want to mask or not mask," he said.

But some restaurants are not ready to loosen the grips at all.

"We always err on the side of caution," said David Borrego, owner of Urban Margarita in Glendale.

Borrego said the new CDC recommendation won't change any situation in his restaurant — masks will still be required no matter what.

"We're going to remain at status quo until everybody gets vaccinated and hopefully that'll be pretty soon, but we're looking at a couple months," he said.

While the restaurant association wants customers to stay safe, they won't need to see vaccination cards to prove inoculation.

"We wouldn't require that. We are the hospitality industry, we're not the hospitality police, so I don't think we're going to ask for vaccination cards," Chucri said.

Governor Ducey issues executive order eliminating capacity restrictions on businesses

Chucri said he's hopeful in the third and fourth quarter of this year things will look like pre-pandemic times in restaurants, once a majority of people have been vaccinated.

He's also hopeful restaurant sales will make a booming comeback after losing about $3 billion in sales this past year.


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