Downtown restaurant business kicks off on first night of Phase 2

Photo: WWAY

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Restaurants in downtown Wilmington kicked off Phase 2 of reopening in North Carolina with a bang Friday night as they were officially allowed to reopen their dining rooms to customers at 5 p.m.

Patrons and restaurant owners alike were excited for the new rules to begin.

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“It’s just like the first time you’re out,” patron Mary Ellen DiBello. “You’re so giddy. It’s like being little kids and un grounded for the first time.”

“Super excited,” patron Erika Negron said. “That means I don’t have to cook.”

Restaurants, changing some things up, from seating to menus to even silverware.

“It’s going to be like every other table, but at least you can get in, sit down, have a few drinks, have something good to eat and not have to worry about cooking tonight,” patron Tony DiBello said.

“I’m not 100% sure, do we have to wear a mask in there?” Negron said. “So we brought ours just in case.”

Each restaurant is running things a little differently. However, all restaurants will have to operate at 50% capacity and follow distancing guidelines per the executive order.

To add to their precautions, Governor Roy Cooper announcing the Count on Me NC program.

“Count on Me is a free online training,” Cooper said. “It’s focused on advanced cleaning, disinfection, social distancing and hygiene practices to better protect the public and employees from exposure to COVID-19.”

The program is open for restaurants and will gradually open for hotels and other businesses.

As Memorial Day weekend gears up, Cooper is urging people to keep the safety guidelines in mind, and most people don’t seem to think it’s a problem.

“We’ll comply with whatever we have to as long as we can dine in a restaurant again,” Negron said.

“Baby steps,” Mary Ellen DiBello said. “That’s what we need. Baby steps. So we’re good.”