OUTER BANKS, N.C. (WAVY) — Restaurants in North Carolina are set to allow customers to dine-in starting at 5 p.m. Friday as phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan begins.
This is the first time in about two months that anyone in the WAVY-TV 10 viewing area would be able to sit down in a restaurant.
Under phase two in North Carolina, restaurants can only operate at 50-percent capacity.
Customers are required to stay 6 feet apart. Restaurant staff must increase disinfection during busy times.
Since it’s Memorial Day weekend, there’s potential for people from all over the state and out-of-state to head to the Outer banks for the unofficial start of summer.
Last weekend was the first weekend visitors were allowed back in Dare County. The county banned tourists in March to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Lee Nettles, the executive director for the Outer Banks tourism bureau, said early reports on the vacation rental home reservations are strong and he anticipates a busy weekend.
“Obviously the restaurants have been hard at work to ensure the safety of their employees and guests and everybody’s trying to work their way through the new protocols and procedures which are so essential to minimizing the spread and hopefully keeping it at bay as we move forward but the restaurants…we need that business desperately,” Nettles said.
10 On Your Side spoke with the owner and head chef of Argyles on the Outer Banks. They’ve been hard at work putting up barriers in between each table to prepare for exactly 44 guests at a time.
There’s now a sanitation station for customers to use before they enter.
Salt shakers, baskets of coffee creamers and sugar packets in the middle of the table? That’s a thing of the past, for now.
John Levy and Debra Sinkage say they’re excited to see locals and tourists, but stressed the importance of everyone following the new regulations.
“It’s all up to people in general,” Sinkage said. “You can tell people what to do, but unless they decide to do it … I mean you can have all the rules and regulation you want. If people do not decide that they are going to follow those rules, you know you you kind of have to give them a little push.”
When Dare County banned tourists in March to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, Levy and Sinkage said this hurt their business.
“That created a very limited clientele for us to try to remain open,” Levy said. “So, when people were doing business and supporting small businesses, it was so spread out.”
Under phase two in North Carolina, bars and gyms will stay closed.
During a one-on-one interview with Governor Roy Cooper, our sister station in Raleigh (WNCN) learned those businesses were originally slated to be reopened under phase two. However, Governor Cooper said the number of positive cases continues to rise so he wanted to err on the side of caution.