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Local Businesses Open Up as Centre County Goes Green

by on May 29, 2020 6:40 PM

More local businesses welcomed back customers on Friday as Centre County officially moved to the state's green phase of reopening.

The least restrictive stage of Pennsylvania's reopening process amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the green phase allows businesses that had remained closed under the yellow phase to reopen, lets businesses that were open to expand their operations and loosens some of the social gathering restrictions — all with all with a long list of guidelines and requirements in place.

Fitness centers and personal care services like hair and nail salons, barbershops, massage therapists and tattoo studios could all start welcoming back customers on Friday for the first time since March. Each can only operate at 50 percent occupancy and have specific health and safety guidelines.

Salons and barbershops are by appointment only. They also cannot open waiting areas and only customers receiving services are permitted inside. Customers and staff also wear masks and customers must be kept 6 feet apart.

On Friday afternoon at Twisted Scissors Dezigns in Bellefonte, owner Dana Antonuccio was with client Kim Smeltzer for what Smeltzer said was a long-awaited cut.

Smeltzer was Antonuccio's seventh client of the day as Twisted Scissors is taking one customer at a time per stylist to adhere to regulations.

"It essentially turns one day into two," Antonuccio said.

Twisted Scissors Dezigns owner Dana Antonuccio welcomed clients, including Kim Smeltzer, on Friday for the first time since salons were ordered to close in March as part of Pennsylvania's coronavirus shutdown. Photo by Geoff Rushton |

Hours after Gov. Tom Wolf made the announcement on Tuesday that Centre County would move to the green phase of reopening on May 29, Tracy Ferrell, owner of For Men Only hair salon, was busy painting a reopening sign on her storefront window. Photo by Vincent Corso | Centre County Gazette

Though retail was permitted to reopen during the yellow phase, shopping malls were just permitted to reopen in the green phase. The Nittany Mall opened on Friday and has modified hours of 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sunday. Not every business within the mall has reopened yet and the Centre Region Active Adult Center will remain closed until further notice.

Theaters also are permitted to reopen at reduced capacity. The UEC Theater locations in State College are still closed and events at The State Theatre through June have already been rescheduled or canceled. The Rowland Theatre in Philipsburg is planning to reopen on June 5.

Bars and restaurants had been restricted to takeout or delivery only during the red and yellow phases, but can now offer dine-in service, also at 50 percent occupancy, in the green phase. Customers must wear masks when traveling through the establishment but not while seated. No more than 10 people can be seated at a table unless they are a family from the same household and parties must be spaced 6 feet apart. Bar seating also requires 6-feet distancing or physical barriers, with parties of no more than four seated closer together.

Standing congregation areas are prohibited, and non-essential spaces like dance floors are to be closed. Employees also must follow a slew of health and sanitization guidelines.

Despite the challenges of adapting to the many requirements, many Centre County bars and restaurants were open to welcome customers inside on Friday.

The Phyrst, 111 E. Beaver Ave., displays a list of regulations for customers. The Phyrst reopened just after midnight on Friday, immediately after Centre County officially entered Pennsylvania's green phase. Photo by Ben Jones |

Patrons wait to enter Doggie's Pub, 108 S. Pugh St., on Friday afternoon. Photo by Ben Jones |

Cafe 210 West, 210 W. College Ave., had a line of customers waiting to enter through much of the afternoon on Friday. Photo by Ben Jones |

State Burger Co., 101 S. Allegheny St. in Bellefonte, welcomed back customers for dine-in service on Friday after being restricted to takeout only since March. Photo by Geoff Rushton |

Bonfatto's Italian Market & Corner Cafe, 401 W. High St. in Bellefonte, once again offered dine-in service on Friday after being restricted to curbside pickup and third-party delivery for the past two and a half months. Photo by Geoff Rushton |

Some bars and restaurants are still finalizing plans and procedures before opening.

Hotel State College — which operates The Corner Room, Spat's at the Grill, Zeno's Pub, Bill Pickles Tap Room, Chumley's and The Basement Night Spot — is aiming to open some of its establishments next week, Curtis Shulman, director of operations, told on Thursday.

When they do open, Shulman said the focus will be on the comfort and safety of customers and staff.

"It’s a really strange time to be in business. Normally so much is controlled by the financial statements and how we can serve the customers but make sure we’re profitable," he said. "Right now in this phase that just can’t be front of mind. It has to be something we always consider but we need to make sure of how we can operate safely for everyone and how can we make people feel comfortable. As we gauge what that is and get comfortable we can progress forward with that."

He added that he is "hopeful and optimistic" that local bars and restaurants are beginning a positive path forward, and that community members will have a renewed appreciation of downtown State College.

"I think theres going to be a huge void we can fill that’s going to make people fall in love with downtown again."

Patrons wait to enter Doggie's Pub, 108 S. Pugh St., on Friday afternoon. Photo by Ben Jones |

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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