KENNETT SQUARE—Kennett Square is safely coming back to life in the yellow phase of reopening, officials said. Restaurants and merchants have been pivoting and adapting in lots of creative ways over the course of the shutdown, including making investments in online shopping and ordering options.

While many continue to offer curbside pickup and delivery and private in-store shopping appointments, they’re also beginning to offer experiences that feel a bit more “normal,” like outside or window-side dining as well as limited regular business hours. It’s even beginning to feel more like summer with a bounty of early summer produce at the Kennett Square Farmers Market, the return of outdoor dining, Longwood Gardens opening to members, and the season’s signature La Michoacana Ice Cream open for business.

The news that the 100 block of East State Street will be closed to vehicle traffic on Thursday evenings, and then again from Friday evening through to Sunday evening, will allow for more outdoor dining and enable businesses to expand outside over the weekends.

Even outdoors, it’s important to continue to adhere to all state and local safety guidelines for public spaces, including physical distancing and mask wearing at all times except when seated at a table. The 100 block of West State Street will remain open to traffic to allow for easy access to, and pickup from, Talula's, Lily, Grain, Philter, the Market at Liberty Place, Nomadic Pies, and other businesses on that block.

“This is a completely new situation for everyone,” says Historic Kennett Square’s Executive Director Bo Wright, “and it will be important to monitor the street closing and adapt and adjust as needed. While Historic Kennett Square doesn’t have the authority to make these decisions about street closures, our role is to make sure businesses are keyed up for success. Our Economic Development Director, Nate Echeverria, has done an outstanding job of surveying business owners, gathering feedback,and passing that information on to Mayor Fetick so that the street closures can be as beneficial as possible for all of our small businesses in this time when they need as much support as we can give them.”

The situation in yellow remains fluid, and Historic Kennett Square is maintaining an updated web page with opening hours and links for individual businesses. Heather Robitzer of No. 109 Shopsums it up by saying, “We’re back, and we’re excited!”

In efforts to keep everyone safe, shopping has a more personal and exclusive feel, with limited maximum occupancy in shops, physically distanced queues and tables for dining, hand sanitizer stations, different policies around trying on and returning clothes, sneeze guards, and mandatory face masks. Merchants are delighted to provide personal attention and expertise to help customers update their summer wardrobes.

In addition to caution and continued vigilance, patience and kindness are the watchwords. The coronavirus is present in our community, and so continued vigilance in hand washing and physical distancing is critical. Patience is essential, as most processes and transactions take a little more time right now. Practicing kindness is also important, as we wear masks to protect others—and especially the most vulnerable among us.

“Carry a mask with you when you go out,” says Dr. Ricky Haug of Core Family Practice. “If you’re approaching a group or encountering a situation where you’re unable to maintain social distancing, it’s important to wear the mask. Based on the CDC and department of health guidelines, masks are recommended and encouraged in all public settings in which social distancing  is difficult to maintain.”

And it’s most important to remember, he says, that masks help protect others. “Although many of these social distancing and protection tools feel foreign to us, it’s important that we all do our part, as much as we can, to prevent further spread of COVID-19,” Haug says.

The proliferation of designs and options means that there’s a mask to fit your personal style. Lots of local shops have you covered with masks that are fun as well as functional.

As this season’s new fashion accessory, masks can be another way to make a statement and tell your story. Some masks come with a story all their own. For every hand-sewn mask from Tanzania or Thailand you buy at Clean Slate Goods, a second mask will be donated to someone in need. Clean Slate has masks in both adult and children’s sizes, in a variety of colorful prints, with pockets to add your own filter.

“I’ve found it helpful to have multiple masks on hand,” says Kari Matthews, owner of Clean Slate. “One in your purse, one in the car, etc. I machine wash them in a zippered mesh bag in the washing machine, then hang to air dry.”

At Maura Grace Boutique, owner Katie Holsten says, “We want to encourage our customers to wear masks the best way we know how... by offering adorable options! Our theory is, it’s suggested you wear masks during this time—not only for your safety, but the safety of others—so let’s make them cute!”

Other local sources of face masks include Lily Asian Cuisine(pick up a mask with your takeout!).Bee Our Guest—our own local manufacturer of natural beeswax wraps—has pivoted to create face masks in both adult and children’s sizes, available online or at the Kennett Square Farmers Market.And Merely Merehas created reversible masks that are available at Kennett Square’s newest “drive through” atworKS.

At Green Eyed Lady, masks can be customized with your choice of fun patches.

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