Dining inside a cozy Italian restaurant sounds dreamy, and Fairfield County has countless eateries now reopened and ready to welcome you back for inside dining.
It will be telling to see how it goes this first weekend since Connecticut's Phase 2 COVID-19 reopening began on Wednesday, June 17. The state's strategic timing ahead of the Father's Day holiday was to avoid everyone rushing to eat out at once.
A block from the Greenwich Metro-North station, Anthony Crudele, owner of Bella Nonna Restaurants & Pizza (280 Railroad Ave.) has seen a steady clientele throughout the quarantine taking advantage of his eatery's takeout and delivery options.
And when Phase 1 allowed dining outside, the business applied to the Town of Greenwich and was quickly approved for patio service, and the "great clientele" came in to dine on the patio.
"We never shut down. From the beginning, we always had clientele come in to pick up and keep us afloat," said Michelle Lieberman, the restaurant manager.
She understands how dining-in patrons might be slow to come in for dining room service, but expects it to start this weekend and pick up gradually.
"We've been here for eight years and have a great clientele. We had a couple of people come since Wednesday, but I think people are still testing," said Lieberman. "We are eager to see people come. Our patio is open. Our dining room is cozy and open. We renovated in November. We've had a good clientele all along. They're amazing."
She added that delivery service is always available by the restaurant's own drivers, and customers who download the Bella Nonna app get a discount on their first order.
Connecticut entered Phase 2 of its economic reopening on Wednesday, June 17 when a majority of businesses in Connecticut were allowed to reopen, though there are strict restrictions in place.
Business sectors allowed to reopen in Phase 2 include amusement parks, hotels, indoor dining, indoor museums, zoos, and aquariums; indoor recreation (bowling, movie theaters, etc.) libraries, outdoor events, personal services (nail salons, tattoo parlors, etc.) but call ahead before you go.
Phase 2 rules in Connecticut include specific information about physical distancing, facility capacity, sanitizing and disinfecting standards, personal protective equipment for employees, staggered scheduling, new training on safety, and face coverings must be worn by workers and patrons.
All residents should continue to wear face coverings in public per the CDC guidelines and the governor's executive order. And indoor private gatherings have been increased up to 25 people and outdoor gatherings of 100 people are now permissible under the new orders.
"Our Town is doing everything we can to help assist businesses and organizations to safely reopen in accordance with the Phase 2 reopening guidelines," said Fairfield's First Selectwoman Brenda L. Kupchick in her emailed newsletter.
While the town's beaches were already open, Fairfield's playgrounds reopened this week. Kupchick reminds visitors to "maintain physical distance from others, use and sanitizer before and after visiting and face coverings are required when you can't keep a safe distance from others."
The Beach at Lake Mohegan, its concession, bathrooms and Splash Pad, for instance, have reopened.
Fairfield's summer event season will kick off this weekend. A global music celebration, Fairfield Make Music Day, is Sunday, June 21, and there will be concerts all over Fairfield to mark the Summer Solstice. Check here for the schedule.
Two of the region's popular farmers market are in Fairfield, where the downtown market on Sherman Green is set to open next weekend, Sunday, June 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dozens of vendors are expected with items like organic produce, local eggs, coffee, kombucha and much more. Already up and running is Saturday's Greenfield Hill Farmers Market, at 65 Hillside Road. It runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Both markets stay open through fall. Shoppers will be required to wear masks and maintain social distancing.
If you're headed into Stamford this weekend to dine in or out, you can still catch free parking as Stamford's parking enforcement will resume required parking meter payment on Monday, June 22. The City of Stamford suspended enforcement of parking meters at the beginning of the COVID-19 public health emergency