Spirits Raised High As Customers, Restaurants On ‘Life Support’ Celebrate Return Of Outdoor Dining

EXTON, Pa. (CBS) — Because we’re now in the yellow phase of reopening, restaurants in southeastern Pennsylvania can offer the first sit-down dining in months. And even though it can only be outdoors, people were excited to be going out to dinner again on a Friday night.

It could have been a wash, another Friday night spent at home and inside. Instead, spirits of all kinds were raised high.

People were out celebrating nothing more than each other and their ability to dine out for the first time in months.

“As soon as we found out it was opening up we were here,” one woman said.

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As of Friday morning, the region moved into the yellow phase of reopening, allowing restaurants to offer outdoor dining.

Since late March, Al Pastor Mexican Eatery in Exton had been surviving on offering takeout only.

“Curbside and takeout is basically life support. We are in like physical therapy mode at this point for small businesses,” Justin Weathers said.

Weathers says the move to outdoor dining has come with some new safety policies, starting with taking employees’ temperatures before each shift.

“Glove use, wiping down almost theatrically,” Weathers said.

Under state guidelines, employees must wear masks at all times. Of course, patrons don’t have to, except when they are entering or walking about.

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Tables were also spaced with social distancing in mind. Still, for many, it felt like a return to a life that had been put on pause.

“We missed seeing each other and even though we live in the same neighborhood, we actually didn’t see each other too often because we were trying to maintain the quarantine,” one woman said.

It was an opportunity to socialize and patronize local businesses.

“We are open, there are people dining at the tables, I hear voices and music. I’m happy,” Weathers said.