LOUISVILLE, Ky.- A long wait is finally over for Louisville restaurants. George Timmering, president of Bearno’s Inc. said it was strange feeling having the restaurant back to full capacity.

What You Need To Know

  • Gov. Beshear ended COVID-19 restrictions Friday

  • Restaurants have returned to full capacity

  • Bearno’s Pizza is hiring at all 14 locations

  • Bearno’s not requiring masks for customers

“Having bar stools around the bar, having people at the tables, it was great. It was wonderful to see that activity and it was strange to be honest with you, it was strange to be that close to customers again when you're walking behind the bar to have a customer that's just a few feet away from you as opposed to the social distance,” Timmering said.

Returning to full capacity for the first time in more than a year is a rewarding feeling for many restaurants but health officials say we're not out of the woods just yet.

“Just because a mask mandate is lifted doesn't mean the need to wear a mask has gone away or it doesn't mean that wearing a mask is the wrong thing to do,” Gary Marshall, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Norton Childrens and University of Louisville School of Medicine said.

Bearno’s Pizza in Louisville is following the governor's recommendation and no longer requires customers to wear a mask but does encourage masks for those who have not yet been vaccinated.

“We're just encouraging that if you haven't got the shot to wear the mask. I would say about 10 to twenty percent of customers coming in are wearing it and then all of my employees, servers, everyone are wearing the mask.”

The restaurant's co-owner, George Timmering, says in just the last week they've seen record numbers and hope it’ll continue.

“If we just have an average Sunday today we will have equaled last June 2020 sales in thirteen days so that shows you what a dramatic turn around things are. So iId say we're about, sales wise, we're getting really close to being back 100%,” Timmering said.

Although the COVID-19 restrictions have ended in Kentucky, Dr. Marshall says vaccinations are still the key to herd immunity.

“The reason COVID-19 is going away is because people are getting vaccinated. There's over three hundred million doses of vaccine that have been given in the United States. There are some sixty million or so that are fully vaccinated, it's really a testament to the power of vaccination in reducing the risk of a disease in our community,” Marshall said.