Just a few minutes before his 4 p.m. showtime, Daniel Stephany moved along a sidewalk outside Penn Cinema, passing a line of movie posters before pulling open the door.
Even behind his mask, he could smell the Manheim Township movie theater’s buttered popcorn.
“It’s good to be back,” said Stephany, of Ephrata, a regular customer at the theater.
Friday was the first day the theater had been open since mid-March, when it was ordered closed as part of a government-mandated business shutdown designed to slow the spread of COVID-19.
It’s a shutdown that has slowly been rolled back. And on Friday, Lancaster County entered the “green” — or least strict — phase, which allows gyms, nail salons, movie theaters, barbershops and indoor malls to reopen. That’s in addition to indoor dining at restaurants and bars.
“I missed coming out to the movies,” Stephany said, explaining he’d likely be back for another showing later this weekend.
He wasn’t worried about the virus or fazed by the new safety precautions, which included Plexiglas guards at counters and staggered seating.
Shortly after Longenecker’s Barber shop in Smoketown officially opened at noon, Frank Pudlo was enjoying the first haircut he’d had in nearly four months.
“Long overdue,” said Pudlo, 65, a retired security systems company manager.
Owner Paige Longenecker agreed.
“It’s about time,” she said about the return of customers to her shop, which her grandfather first opened in 1946.
She was expecting a busy day of tending to customers with appointments, as well as walk-ins.
Hitting the gym
At Formula Fitness, a gym near the Shops at Rockvale, returning members were adjusting to some new procedures: taped-off showers, a closed sauna, disabled water fountains and canceled fitness classes. It was a cautious approach to getting back to business.
Owner Jan Weaver said he expects to soon loosen some restrictions, expand hours and resume some fitness classes.
“We’re just kind of getting all the bugs worked out,” he said.
The morning crowd was smaller than usual, but those who showed up said they relished being able to get back into a gym.
“Wonderful. Wonderful,” said Linda Martin, a 59-year-old motel owner from East Lampeter Township. “I have such a routine here with the machines. I do have weights at home, but it wasn’t quite the same.”
Eager exercisers trickled into Universal Athletic Club in Manheim Township starting at 5 a.m. For many, it marked their first workout in months.
“The vast majority of people came in the door this morning cheering,” said Susan Petersheim, the club's executive director.
Park City, dining
Friday also marked the reopening of stores without outdoor entrances at the Park City Center mall, but less than a dozen store owners took advantage of the opportunity, said Rachel Gallagher, the mall’s senior general manager. It might be more than a month before everyone returns, she said.
Linda Landis’s Friday visit to Park City marked the first time she set foot inside a shopping mall since February.
“I’m excited but a little apprehensive,” she said from behind her floral-printed mask.
As an elderly woman, Landis said she's made herself aware of the dangers of contracting COVID-19.
The reopening also was slow at the General Sutter Inn and Bulls Head Public House in Lititz, where bartenders behind plastic guards served indoor customers for the first time since the shutdown took hold.
Just before dinnertime, Assistant General Manager Erin Stroyan-Peduzzi said the transition to indoor from outside-only dining will be measured. The number of diners allowed inside at one time has been drastically decreased, she said.
Similar capacity cutbacks were implemented inside of Annie Bailey’s Irish Public House in downtown Lancaster, but still, there were people waiting to get inside when it opened for indoor dining in the late afternoon. It remained busy after 6 p.m.
“We’re so happy to see a lot of our regulars,” manager-in-training Emily Sheaffer said.
LNP | LancasterOnline intern Gabe Miller contributed to this story.