Accomack restaurants prepare to reopen as county enters phase 1; county leaders express concern

Accomack County

ACCOMACK COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) — Accomack County will join the rest of Virginia in entering phase 1 of reopening its economy Friday.

RELATED: Accomack to join Northern Virginia and Richmond in moving to phase 1 on Friday

Most other areas in the commonwealth made this move two weeks ago. However, leaders in Accomack County, Richmond and Northern Virginia asked the governor for a 2 week delay, because of their high coronavirus case counts.

RELATED: Read about Virginia’s coronavirus case count data

10 On Your Side followed up with Ron Wolff, a member of the Accomack County Board of Supervisors. WAVY’s Brett Hall spoke with Wolff about two weeks ago. He said the decision to delay entering phase one of reopening was the hardest decision he’s ever had to make during his time on the board.

As the county gets ready to reopen, he said he’s trying to remain hopeful about the reopening, but still has some doubts.

Wolff said coronavirus cases on the Eastern Shore were rampant at that time, especially because of growing cases at the county’s Perdue and Tyson chicken plants.

Since then, data from The Virginia Department of Health shows the number of cases in the county dropped considerably since two weeks ago, However, as we’ve reported, VDH still hasn’t added many of the 500-plus known positive cases from the plants.

Wolff now worries about people flocking to the Eastern Shore’s tourist attractions and ignoring guidelines.

“I hope that we don’t see the same types of things that we saw with our neighbors to the north and south, particularly at beaches in Virginia Beach and Ocean City, you know people without masks, people elbow to elbow,” Wolff said.

Governor Ralph Northam’s mask mandate goes into effect Friday. 10 On Your Side asked Wolff if he finds comfort in the fact that Accomack County’s phase one reopening falls on the same day as this new mandate. He said it absolutely does.

RELATED: The six exceptions to Northam’s mask mandate and what they mean for you

However, he still expressed concerns about restaurants reopening their outdoor dining areas.

He worries they are going to be overwhelmed with customers and won’t be able to maintain the 50 percent capacity guideline.

RELATED: Northam says all Va. beaches may reopen starting Friday, answers questions of face covering requirement

Terris Kennedy, a owner of Blarney Stone Pub in Onancock, said she and her staff will be wearing masks. She said they had signs made to make it clear that social distancing will be enforced.

There’s now a hand washing cleaning station on the patio and paper menus will be used so they can be thrown out after each guest.

Kennedy says she’s excited to return to some normalcy, but stressed the importance of everyone following the rules.

“One thing that I would really emphasize is that we are a community that is very welcoming, businesses are very welcoming, but businesses are also very in tune with requirements and the needs to be compliant to keep people safe,” she said.

Kennedy says only about 25 people will be allowed on the patio and she measured out six feet in between each table. She said it’s a precaution they’re not taking lightly.

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