Southeastern Pennsylvania was given the “yellow” light June 5th to enter the second phase of Governor Tom Wolf’s three-phase reopening plan. This new phase lifts restrictions for restaurants and retail establishments, allowing for the opening of outdoor dining and in-store shopping.
Big box retailers, like Boscov’s in Plymouth Meeting, opened their doors on Saturday. Among the customers waiting in the parking lot for the store to open was Stephanie Kutys.
“It’s weird. It’s just something different, you know. Being cooped up so long. I do go out once a week to go to the grocery store [and] do what I need to do. But other than that, I’m in the house,” the Norristown resident said.
Kutys suffers from autoimmune diseases and wanted to be one of the first customers in the store to limit her exposure to others.
Joan Saban also was eager to shop and was effusive about her favorite store finally reopening.
“We’re so happy Boscov’s is open. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Governor,” said Saban.
Small businesses in Montgomery County also took advantage of the opportunity to reopen. Jackets n’ Things in Ambler welcomed customers for the first time since the pandemic on Friday, June 5, 2020.
Owners Barbara and John Ruggiero said COVID-19 took a major toll on their business and recouping their losses will be difficult.
“It was right in the middle of our busy season. Our busiest season. Our busiest time of the year. So, we lost our communion season [and] our spring sports season. We print t-shirts so we lost that. Plus, we do alterations so we lost our wedding season,” John Ruggiero said.
Ruggiero went on to add that he believes Governor Wolf should have given retail shops the approval to open sooner. However, he is grateful to be back in business, as they have been for thirty years.
The mom and son owned shop is paying it forward by giving away a free homemade mask to any customer that walks through the door.
Just down the street, the restaurant KC’s Alley opened its alleyway for outside dining.
Co-Owner Annina Clibanoff is excited about this new chapter and put in place new safety precautions for customers.
“There’s nothing on the tables at all. There’s no ketchup, no salts, nothing. If they ask for that, that’s all upon request. Everything is already sanitized down, what we bring to them. Paper menus […] are disposed afterward,” Clibanoff said.
For regulars like Linda Angeloff Sapienza and her husband, Carmen, the reopening of their weekly lunch destination was emotional.
“We haven’t been here in three months and so, [we] went and sat down today, and then I heard the train going to Ambler Station. And that’s when I lost it because I love to watch the trains and I love sitting here. And it just means everything,” Linda said.
Philadelphia will allow restaurants to open for outdoor dining on Friday, June 12, 2020, due to ongoing protests in the city.