OCEAN CITY, N.J. (CBS) — From the city to the shore, Sunday was a fantastic midpoint to Labor Day weekend. Traditions have been altered this year as the season has stood out as most unusual thanks to COVID-19.
There have been dramatic differences in the way of life as we know it. Down the shore, indoor dining is now allowed with mere days left in what is usually the most prosperous time of year.
Indoor dining could not have resumed at a better time, not only for restaurant owners but also for patrons as well.
“I felt like, I don’t know, a hermit for so long,” Victoria Melvin said.
Melvin enjoyed a slice inside on Sunday as Pisa’s Pizza was slinging dough all day.
“Definitely changed my mood. I think it’s lifted my spirits, absolutely, even though I still have to wear a mask,” Melvin said.
The boardwalk in Ocean City is full of spots to dive into now that New Jersey has reopened indoor dining at 25% capacity.
“Back to normal to have people sitting inside again. It was a little weird at first on Friday because we haven’t been used to it but now it feels like old times a little bit,” said Ocean City Cafe owner Bethany Devoy.
Anna Palmieri’s joint, Litterer’s Food Court, usually fits 100 people.
“2020 has not been good so it has been tough for all of us because we just didn’t have the capacity,” she said.
Palmieri says customers have been patient, perhaps more so than restaurant owners who have spaced out patrons, required masks, and gone through thorough cleaning.
Just chomping on a cheesesteak feels cathartic.
“It feels normal. I mean, I’ve got the mask on but aside from that, it feels normal, it feels great to be back down the shore,” Sheeraz Iqbal said.
The holiday weekend came with a stern warning from New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy who said he would not hesitate to pull back indoor dining and put more restrictions in place in the event that restaurant owners were breaking rules.