STAMFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork)Connecticut took a major step forward on the road to reopening Friday.

Restaurants were allowed to reopen at 100% capacity, but it’s not exactly back to normal yet, CBS2’s Nick Caloway reported.

READ MORE: COVID Vaccine In New York: Walk-In Appointments Offered To All New Yorkers Over 50 At City-Run Sites

For the first time in more than a year, many Connecticut businesses are back to maximum capacity – a major milestone for businesses that were ravaged by the pandemic.

“It’s amazing. It’s a great step forward. We still have to follow the 6 feet rule, but this is a big step forward,” said Dennis Cloke, general manager of Fish Restaurant and Bar in Stamford.

COVID VACCINE

Starting Friday, all capacity limits on restaurants, retail, gyms, offices, personal services, museums and houses for worship were lifted.

But masks and spacing requirements are still in place.

“We still have to keep distancing between our customers. So I don’t believe the 100% is really 100%,” said Vito Derario, who owns Zaza Italian Gastrobar.

Derario said the loosening of restrictions is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t mean customers will actually come back.

READ MORE: COVID In New York: Variants Blamed For Nearly Half Of New Infections In Past Week

“It’s the people themselves who, right now, they are damaged. This is going to stay on our brain for a long time,” Derario said.

Around the corner at Sweeney Todd’s Hair Design, owner Bernadette Carrizzo said she plans to stay well below capacity, for now.

“Our first priority is to make sure that our clients still feel safe and comfortable coming in. And same thing for our staff,” Carrizzo said.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

The changes in Connecticut also mean sports teams can practice and compete in tournaments with safety protocols in place.

Movie theaters and performing arts venues are capped at 50% capacity. Restaurants still face an 11 p.m. curfew and an eight person per table limit.

Restaurant owners say they’re looking forward to warmer weather so they can add outdoor tables again, because so many people are still uncomfortable eating inside.

MORE NEWS: Some Parents Hesitant, Others Back Science As COVID Vaccine Trials Continue On Younger Children, Teens

CBS2’s Nick Caloway contributed to this report.

CBSNewYork Team