Tomorrow, Friday May 22nd at 5 pm, North Carolina will enter phase two of reopening. In phase one, very little changed from before, but this new phase will make things feel more like normal than they’ve felt in a couple of months, and we’ve got to remember that things aren’t fully back to normal. With more people out and about across the country, the next several weeks could determine how this plays out for the rest of the year.
Phase two reopens pretty much everything except places like bars, clubs, bowling alleys, gyms, and movie theaters. Retail will be allowed to operate at 50% capacity with strict social distancing measures in place, and restaurants will also be able to serve at 50% capacity as long as diners are spread six feet apart, with no large groups that are not from the same household. We’ve gotten a lot of questions from both customers and employees about what this means for the General Store since we’re both a grocery retail space and a restaurant.
Will we be allowing indoor seated dining?
Unfortunately not yet. While we technically could, you’ve been in the General Store…you know what a narrow space we have already for indoor dining…even if we opened up a couple of booths, there’s no good way to ensure safe social distancing while people are dining, shopping and working. We will have a few well-spaced tables outside on the patio where you can enjoy your food, though this Memorial Day weekend looks to continue to be full of more rain, so this might be a moot point until next week.
With outdoor dining, there will need to be a few rules. This new phase of opening is to help slowly restart the economy, and it’s important that we follow some guidelines to lessen the chance of any spread into Saxapahaw. We’re a tiny village, but we’re also a popular tourist destination from visitors from all over the state of North Carolina and beyond. Better safe than sorry.
- Do not move the tables from where they’ve been placed. Per current rules, tables must be six feet apart.
- Don’t hog the tables. Sometimes finding a seat on a sunny day when the General Store is packed can be difficult in good times, so please be respectful and mindful of others, and refrain from taking up tables if you don’t need to, and don’t linger for too long if there are people who need to have a place to sit.
- Please clean up your space. We won’t be using plates and glasses, but out of courtesy to others, and for public health, please clean up your table of boxes, cans, bottles, plasticware or any personal belongings.
Will customers be required to wear face masks?
No. While it is strongly encouraged to wear a face mask and gloves when entering any popular public space right now, we understand that there are various reasons why someone cannot, and it is not a requirement, but it is encouraged. If you have a fever or in any way suspect that you might have coronavirus, please do not come to the store. Stay home, and order online or over the phone.
With this new round of easing restrictions, not many businesses will be flinging their doors wide at 5 pm on Friday, and everyone will still be required to maintain social distancing rules. The Eddy Pub will be allowing a very small number of people to enjoy their take-out boxes on their balcony, they won’t be opening back up to half capacity for a little while. Freehand Market won’t be reopening until next Wednesday, and even then, it will be limited to 2-3 people at a time in the store or during reserved shopping hours.
With all of that said, just please be mindful, smart and careful. The best way to neutralize the threat of a highly contagious virus is to deprive it of new hosts. Wear masks and gloves when possible. Stay at home when possible. When you are out in public, keep a safe distance from others. Wash your hands. Use hand soap and hand sanitizer. We are going to keep doing everything we can to do our part in maintaining public health and safety. That’s our job, and we take it seriously. We can’t wait to once again have the store packed with people playing board games, knitting and sharing stories across the table from each other, but right now, what we want even more, is for people to feel comfortable visiting the General Store, and for no one to get sick.