As Philly region goes 'yellow,' Main Street merchants grateful, cautious

Glenda Childs of The Doylestown Bookshop
Photo credit Tim Jimenez/KYW Newsradio
DOYLESTOWN, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — The Philadelphia region is now officially in the "yellow" phase of Gov. Tom Wolf's three-tiered plan. So, the stay-at-home order is lifted, and some of coronavirus restrictions on residents and businesses have been eased.

During normal times, Doylestown has a vibrant Main Street, but the coronavirus pandemic put that all on hold. Shop owners there say they have been trying to get by the last few months.

For Derrick Morgan of Monkey’s Uncle sports apparel store, and Jona Franklin of Lilies of the Field boutique, people walking in the door and buying something is how they make a living. 

And now that they can let customers in again, said Morgan, “I think for us, and for all the business owners, it’s cautiously optimistic.”

“In Pennsylvania, 'yellow' means step on it!” Franklin said.

Step on it, but proceeding with caution. 

Bucks County Health Director Dr. David Damsker says moving to yellow can get some of that business back and give Doylestown a much-needed boost.

“I would say 98% of all businesses will be able to open up," he said, a big step toward some normalcy.

“People are gonna be out and about more and more. I think that’s going to be the biggest difference you’ll see," he said. "If you need to go clothes shopping or you do some things you haven’t been able to do at your favorite store, you’ll be able to do those.”

However, there are restrictions on how many people can be inside at once. Restaurants can now add outdoor seating to existing take-out and curbside pickup options.

Non-essential retail can reopen, but with only so many people allowed in at once. Childcare facilities can reopen again too. Gatherings can now be up to 25 people. 

Also still in effect: the requirements to wear masks, stay 6 feet apart, wash hands and sanitize surfaces.

.@DoylestownBooks is ready to reopen as the region hits the yellow phase. Owner Glenda Childs gave us a tour. Yellow dots for social distancing, a hand sanitizer and mask station up front, and plexiglass at the register. 25 people allowed inside at once. @KYWNewsradio

— Tim Jimenez (@TimJRadio) June 5, 2020

For the last three months, the Doylestown Bookshop has been focusing on online sales. More recently, curbside pickup was an option. And now, finally, owner Glenda Childs can open the doors to customers again.

“I bought the store eight years ago and we had a grand opening and this is what it feels like right now," Childs said.

Childs says she is grateful to be open. What better way to learn than by opening a book?

“This is our time where we usually are able to really serve our community as a gathering place for them to share ideas and come and get books to learn about our past and the possibilities for our future,” she said.

Childs says they’re doing all they can to keep the staff and customers safe: only 25 people allowed inside at once, yellow dots on the floor for social distancing.

As Franklin explains, it really is a new normal.

“Quarantine clothing," she said. "Which we never used to do, when somebody would try something on, but now we do. It goes and sits for 24 hours before it’s put back on the floor."

Officials say people still need to do those things so the counties can continue to limit the spread of coronavirus and get to the "green" phase. 

Only then can businesses such as gyms, salons and theaters get their turn and open again.

As the statewide lockdown thaws out, Bucks County Commissioner Gene DiGiralamo says it's good news for business.

“I am just super happy that we moved to 'yellow.' But this is not a get-out-of-jail-free card for everybody," DiGiralamo said.

Officials say people still need to do their part and take the restrictions seriously so that counties can move past "yellow" as quickly and safely as possible.