It’s been a mediocre summer for sweet corn, but the lack of rain has yielded a bumper crop of outdoor dining in the coronavirus crisis — at some restaurants, that is.

Crowds pack the Washington Street sidewalks in South Norwalk, for example, where places such as Match bring the neighborhood to life.

But what about the restaurants themselves, as businesses with indoor seating cut in half at best, their bars closed and large parties still not allowed? Many continue to struggle and won’t make it. All of them face the looming end of patio season soon.

And so they’re pressing Gov. Ned Lamont to ease the Phase 2 pandemic limits that started on June 17 — including a maximum of 50 percent of seating capacity indoors and a limit of 25 people, counting servers, at any indoor party. Even weddings. Even in giant restaurants and banquet halls.

The industry, in fact, has spent the summer pushing for looser limits. Lamont, for his part, has held firm against launching Phase 3 — with the nation still in danger and, on Friday, a small outbreak in Danbury.

The latest: Everyone will reassess after Labor Day.

Give Scott Dolch, president of the Connecticut Restaurant Association, credit. Lamont and David Lehman, the state economic and community development commissioner and COVID reopening major general, have given him little reason for hope, publicly at least. Nevertheless, he persisted.

And he persists to this day, joining Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and some high-profile restaurateurs at Wood-n-Tap on the Farmington River Tuesday. Murphy is calling for a new federal backstop, beyond the partly successful Paycheck Protection Program, to help restaurants and other businesses with no hope of making up revenues and lots of non-employee expenses.

“We can’t survive as an economy if we don’t have a healthy restaurant industry, a healthy hospitality industry. And this is an existential crisis for the restaurant industry,” Murphy said.

With Dolch looking on, the senator declined to second-guess Lamont. “I think the governor has made all the right choices for Connecticut and the stats back that up.”

Dolch looks at those same numbers and says we can do more for restaurants and their customers, safely — in overall seating limits and in private parties.

“Our big ask in the restaurants right now is to eliminate the 50 percent capacity and look to allow as much seating as you can get as long as you’re following the 6-foot spacing or you have barriers between booths,” he said. “We all live in New England, we know the weather can turn on a dime and we know in the fall, we want it to be great like it’s been this summer. …We need to be able to allow all these restaurants to be able to function and do well with inside dining.”

That means a restaurant with a normal limit, of, say, 250 people could bring in, say, 175 instead of a limit of 125 — as long as the tables were spaced correctly. That would help some places and not others, depending on their floor plans.

At Match in South Norwalk, for example, ending the 50 percent limit wouldn’t help much, owner and celebrated executive chef Matt Storch said. But it could help him at his Match Burger Lobster location in Westport. And it would mean he could get by with a smaller-than-planned heated tent in the winter. (Look for those everywhere starting around Columbus Day or whatever we call it now.)

The bigger issue for Storch is the party size limit — 25 inside, 100 outside, regardless of the size of a facility.

“The party size limits need to increase, period,” he said in an email. “If 40 people wanted to rent the inside of Match for a socially distanced private party, I would have to turn the business away, like I have about 15 times over the last few months. Following restaurant guidelines with masks and social distancing I don’t see why 25 inside and 100 outside would need to be the max. Makes no sense. Private party revenues is what we count on to boost our revenues to cover our costs.”

The party limits are killing caterers and banquet facilities. “We need to look to increase that significantly and our ask right now for mid-September, end of September, we would like to have our event venues go at 50 percent capacity, capped at 100 people.”

That means, for example, that if the Waterview in Monroe could hold hundreds of people for a banquet such as the Hearst Connecticut Media Top Workplaces awards dinner, its limit for indoor events would be 100, not 25.

Earlier in the summer, Dolch pushed for Lamont and Lehman to raise the 100-person outdoor events limit to 150.

“You can talk to every single business and they can name how much revenue loss, how many events they’ve had to cancel,” Dolch said. “It’s very, very difficult and our ask of the governor right now is realistically a reasonable ask to try to help these businesses survive.”

He makes the old realpolitik argument: People are going to do what they’re going to do, in this case, have unprotected, big parties at home. “A lot of rogue things are happening.” We’ve all see restaurants break the rules and when that happens, Dolch tells me, he doesn’t hesitate to tell them to knock it off — whether they’re members of the association or not.

As we spoke on Tuesday, a decent lunch crowd ate under two tents by the river at Wood-n-Tap, with owner Phil Barnett hosting Murphy, Richard Rosenthal and Steven Abrams of the Max Restaurant Group and others on a second-floor terrace.

Across the state in Danbury, Lamont talked about restaurant expansion with my colleague Ken Dixon, where the governor managed a coronavirus outbreak shutdown. Talk about bad timing.

“I just think it’s premature. I know the frustration,” Lamont said. “But here we are in Danbury, saying it went from 1 percent to 7 percent in a short period of time. Let’s err on the side of caution a little bit longer.”

Those numbers are the percentage of tests coming with positive results for COVID-19. Much of the nation has been at or near 10 percent this summer, leading to travel quarantines. Connecticut has posted a 0.77 percent figure in August. The bottom line: We’ve averaged 2.5 new cases a day per 100,000 people, compared with 15 a day for the United States as a whole in that time.

Danbury’s outbreak has been about at the national average, not a huge spike.

All of that leads Dolch to say it’s time to adjust the limits. He and Lehman have spent a lot of time on the phone this summer, with some results. Live music and dancing are now allowed, under strict rules — no singing yet but comedy is okay — and buffets with servers are back. “We’re asking for a little bit more,” he said.

Lehman makes the point that every suffering industry, from gyms to nail salons, wants looser rules. “Everyone says they can do it safely, but then you get into behavior,” he said earlier in the summer.

It’s not unanimous even in the restaurant industry. “I happen to be in favor of the limits,” said Abrams, a partner in the upscale Max Restaurant Group.

Surrounding states offer little guidance. At least three — New Jersey, Massachusetts and Rhode Island — have tightened rules after loosening. All of them are stricter in some areas, easier in others.

In Connecticut, the industry is acting reasonably for the most part. Here’s how the deal could go down after Labor Day: Restaurants and banquet halls gain a bit more leeway as long as the COVID numbers stay low.

And to balance that, the state and municipalities need to bring down the hammer much harder on violators by asking the public to report abuses.

Connecticut Media Group