GREENVILLE, NC (WITN) - Restaurants are now allowed to be open for indoor dining as a part of phase 2.
This started at 5 p.m. Friday. For places like La Ribera, a Mexican restaurant in Greenville, employees were optimistic. Some, like assistant manager Janette Cisneros, said it brought new hope, considering the difficult couple of months prior.
"It's been very tough because I had to let go of 14 of my servers,” she said.
Under phase 2, restaurants can only open with 50% capacity and must follow guidelines like frequently cleaning and socially distancing customers.
"Nobody can live with 50%,” said Cisneros. “But everything is a process."
While many restaurants planned to open Friday, Parker’s Barbecue in Greenville is holding off.
They said they are waiting until Tuesday morning to re-open. In the meantime, they’re taking some of their tables out of the restaurant so they can make sure customers are socially distanced.
"There's gonna be older people that wanna go out to eat,” explained Billy Parker, one of the owners of Parker’s Barbecue. “So we need to be respectful of them and try to keep them safe in this new environment as well."
Although he said it’s already been 70 days since their dining room has been open, Parker said they can wait a while to make sure their employees and customers are as safe as possible.
After many setbacks while they were closed, both restaurants said this is a good step forward.
"When we go through times, there's always the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Cisneros at La Ribera.
Parker agrees. "It'll be a great experience for everybody to get back out and you know, get out of the drive thru's and come on inside and enjoy a good meal.”
Phase two of reopening the state began at 5 p.m.
The statewide stay-at-home order is lifted, although leaders advise everyone to still be cautious.
Restaurants can reopen indoor dining rooms to half capacity and tables must be six feet apart. Owners are being told to avoid self-serve drink or food options like buffets, salad bars and drink stands. They'll be also required to disinfect tables and booths in between each use and check employees daily for symptoms.
Salons, barbers, and other personal care services can be back open for business. They also can only operate at half capacity and there are sanitation guidelines in place for owners and employees.
All childcare facilities as well as overnight and day camps are back open. Swimming pools can be used, but at 50% capacity, as well. All of these facilities will need to follow enhanced cleaning and screening requirements.
Gyms, bars and nightclubs, movie theaters, and public playgrounds are not included in phase two.
Phase two will last until at least June 26, according to Governor Roy Cooper.
Face coverings are recommended and remote work is still advised if possible.
Gov. Roy Cooper said the state will move into phase two of reopening at 5:00 p.m. Friday.
The governor late this afternoon said the state has made progress in controlling the coronavirus since it went into phase one back on May 8th.
Under a modified phase two, restaurants will be allowed to reopen to limited seating restrictions. Beauty salons, barbershops, and other personal care services will also be allowed to reopen with reduced capacity.
Cooper said bars, nightclubs, gyms, indoor theaters, bowling alleys, and public playgrounds will remain closed.
As part of phase two, the governor's order requires restaurants to maintain social distancing by arranging tables and seating to get at least a 6-foot separation between groups for both indoor and outdoor dining. Those sitting at a counter should be 6-feet apart, while total occupancy cannot be more than 50% of the restaurant's fire capacity.
Restaurants will be required to conduct daily symptom screening of employees at the entrance and immediately send anyone home that are symptomatic. They'll be also required to disinfect tables and booths in between each use and promote frequent handwashing for wait/food service staff throughout their shift.
The governor's order "strongly recommended" that employees and customers wear a cloth or disposable face covering when they may be less than 6-feet from others in the restaurant, while the businesses use disposable menus and single-use/disposable linens when possible.
Restaurants are also being told to avoid self-serve drink or food options like buffets, salad bars, and drink stands.
Under phase two, mass gatherings can be no more than 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors in most circumstances.
Swimming pools will be allowed to reopen at 50% capacity and cleaning requirements, while childcare facilities, day camps, and overnight camps can reopen with enhanced cleaning and screening requirements.
The modified phase two runs at least through June 26th, according to the governor.