On Tuesday, May 5th, NC governor Roy Cooper announced that after May 8th, the state would be moving to “Phase One” of the slow, long path of getting life and the state economy back to normal. The governor was clear that this is not a reopening of North Carolina, because the data shows that while the cases of coronavirus have somewhat flattened out, the numbers are still high, and we can’t risk undoing all the progress that’s been made so far, but this new phase will help to get some of the economy back on track in a responsible fashion. I’ve attached a graphic below that shows what will be different after May 8th, and you’ll notice that there isn’t that much that’s different. The main change is that this new stage will allow a limited reopening of some retail businesses, but with 50% capacity with social distancing. We’re already operating at the legal capacity for essential businesses, and we will still be unable to offer dine-in service inside or on the patio.
However, not much will change as far as the Saxapahaw General Store goes– as a gas station / restaurant / grocery store, we were an “essential business” under previous rules, and that’s still the same. However, we are going to continue to encourage online and phone orders over visiting the store in person, as well as limiting physical traffic in thy store to make sure that our customers and employees are kept safe and healthy, keeping Covid-19 out of the 27340 if possible.
As a business, it’s not in our self-interest to turn people away, and this May has been traditionally our busiest month of the year, one that carries us through the leaner months, but it’s also in the public interest right now for us to continue to err on the side of caution. This past weekend, the General Store saw a surprising amount of foot traffic with non-essential businesses still heavily restricted, and we learned about the challenges of providing a safe environment for the community. So while the state and the country begin to very slowly test the waters of reopening, it might seem in the coming weeks that the Saxapahaw General Store is implementing more restrictions, but this is not the case— we’re simply going to be doing more crowd control out of necessity. We absolutely understand the frustration of quarantine, and we know that as more business is allowed to happen as normal, and as the weather just keeps getting better and better, and with Mother’s Day coming this weekend, we expect more travelers visiting us, and in order to accommodate our customers while not violating current public health guidelines, you’ll be seeing more signs, more space opened up inside the store to allow for safe social distancing and more reminders from General Store employees about limits on large groups coming inside.
If you’re arriving in a group of three or four or more, we ask that you only send one representative from your group to do the shopping and ordering.
When ordering food, we will still continue to ask you to wait safely outside, but please do not crowd the sidewalk or the space right in front of the doors or by the contactless pickup table. When hanging out in the parking lot, please be mindful of appropriate social distancing for the sake of staff and our community.
When possible, try to order groceries online and come pick them up later. We’re adding new items every day, with items being fully restocked on a daily basis. We even offer dinner ordering online, and local delivery of groceries, dinner and Saxapahaw Farm Fresh Boxes Thursday through Sunday if you live within seven miles of the store.
If you’re wanting to order breakfast, lunch, or dinner, or if you’re looking for something online and you don’t see it, give us a call at 336-376-5332 and we’ll be happy to help in any way we can. We’re working quickly to upgrade our telephone system to efficiently handle a higher call volume to continue to encourage customers to do business with us in socially responsible ways.
The CDC, as well as state and national health experts highly recommend wearing a face covering when in public, especially indoors, and when visiting places like the General Store that have a higher number of visitors. We cannot enforce 100% face masks for every customer, and you won’t be turned away without one, but per the guidelines established by numerous high-level health experts, we strongly encourage masks for customers. We will continue to offer free gloves and hand sanitizer for all visitors, and we simply want to a safe and healthy Saxapahaw– just as we always have.
This upcoming easing of restrictions is not reopening. It’s not an invitation to go completely back to normal and to ignore public health recommendations. There may be a glimmer of dim light at the end of the tunnel, but we will probably be dealing with this through the rest of this year and possibly well into 2021. Just because the cases of Covid-19 seem to have leveled out, it’s not the time to assume it can’t happen here, because it can and it will if we’re all not careful, because the numbers are still high, but at least for the time being, the cases of coronavirus in NC aren’t going down either. It just means that the exponential rate of infection has slowed. We’re highly social animals, and time and time again, in cities and nations around the world, we’ve seen second and third waves of infections when people become too complacent and try to go too quickly back into large groups and pre-pandemic levels of socialization.
It’s a fine line that any business has to straddle right now– we need to keep the bills paid, but we also must be responsible. There have been some days when it’s frighteningly slow and we wonder how we can keep going, and there are other days when it feels like there are too many people packed in the parking lot and waiting in line at the registers. We need you to help us so that we can continue to help you. We’ve vastly expanded our offerings of groceries, we offer daily fresh seafood, we offer delivery within 7 miles of the store, and nearly everything that we have at the store you can buy online. At this time, we ask you to be patient and to take advantage of the many ways that we can serve you, and that you can continue to support small businesses in Saxapahaw from a distance.
To read more about the various stages of reopening, and what that might look like, you can find more info here.