Separated by plexiglass the bar at Ocean Boulevard creates four additional places for diners to sit.

Separated by plexiglass the bar at Ocean Boulevard creates four additional places for diners to sit.

As North Carolina enters Phase 2 of its planned reopening, we’re getting a glimpse of what the new normal is going to look like.

Today, Friday, was the first day of Phase 2 and it does open things up a bit. Outdoor gatherings of up to 25 can meet outdoors. Groups up to 10 can be indoors.

The biggest noticeable change though will be our Outer Banks restaurants.

They’re allowed to reopen.

Phase 2 and Our Restaurants

There will be changes, and some very significant ones. As an example, they will be permitted to only seat 50% of their capacity. Also bars are not open yet, but that does create an opportunity for some creative seating.

What Donny King at Ocean Boulevard in Kitty Hawk has done is section off his bar using plexiglass dividers. It may not be much, but it does create four more places to seat diners.

We haven’t seen other restaurants follow suit, but it seems like such a simple way to increase seating that we’re sure Ocean Boulevard is not the only restaurant doing this.

There are other things on the horizon to help restaurants as well.

Local governments on the Outer Banks have passed ordinances to allow up to 50% of the indoor seating capacity to be seated in the parking lot of a restaurant. It’s not a perfect solution, as today’s rain made clear, but every little bit helps.

With seating limited in restaurants, it’s probably a good idea to call ahead and make a reservation at your favorite place to dine.

One of the things that closing all the restaurants except for takeout did create was some of the finest takeout menus imaginable. As far as we know, all the fine dining establishments that began sending gourmet meals home are still offering takeout service.

One more opportunity for some excellent eats from some of our finest eateries. Local ordinances have been relaxed to allow food trucks to serve food from parking lots.

Slowly but surely, step by step, the Outer Banks is reopening. Take some time to explore life on a sandbar from a Brindley Beach Vacations home.