As Lancaster County enters the “green phase” of a COVID-19 reopening plan Friday, some residents may feel a sense of added freedom.
In many ways, the feeling would be justified: gyms, nail salons, movie theaters and indoor shopping malls will be among the businesses able to reopen, albeit at half capacity, according to Gov. Tom Wolf’s mitigation plan.
But looking across the Susquehanna River to York County — which made the move nearly two weeks ago — is the grass really greener on the other side?
On Wednesday, several restaurants in York County were operating as usual, with a few adjustments, and workers and customers alike said they were happy to get back to business.
Although many places have ample seating inside, many customers opted to dine outdoors.
“After two months of being closed, people are saying they’re appreciative of restaurants,” said Caroline Myers, a manager at the Wrightsville Inn, located just off of the Veterans Memorial Bridge in York County. “They’re tired of having dinner at home.”
Myers said she has seen an influx of customers from several Lancaster County municipalities, including Columbia, Marietta and Millersville.
“I’ve even had to turn away people on Friday and Saturday nights because of how busy we’ve been, (but) they’ve been understanding,” she said.
Along with having tables at least 6 feet apart, restaurants are making subtle changes for indoor dining. Instead of a laminated broadsheet menu, single-use menus doubling as placemats for meals are being provided; instead of ketchup bottles and salt and pepper shakers, single-use condiment packages are given upon request.
Social distancing is still being encouraged, and face masks are required to be worn until guests are seated, Myers said.
Across the river in Columbia, Matthew and Rebekah Feeser were both excited and perturbed at the impending change to green while having drinks outdoors at Columbia Kettle Works on North Third Street in the borough.
“Definitely seeing some of our regular friends here and eating out at restaurants will be nice,” Rebekah Feeser said.
“It’s super terrifying,” her husband, a bartender in New Holland, said. “People are saying, ‘Oh, the second wave is coming, but we’re nowhere near through the first one.
“People think that the pandemic is over or that it was never really as serious as it was made out to be, and neither one of those things is the case,” he said.
Just a table away, friends Millie Foehlinger and Allie Davis said they were excited to dine in restaurants with friends locally since they had been going to York County to “break the rules” and dine-in there.
Both say they personally aren’t fans of masks, but Davis admitted she will need to wear one when she returns to work on Monday at a spa.