By: Jaina Louise Winston, Writer / Follow South Jersey Community Resources Intern
BRIDGETON, N.J. — New Jersey officials have commenced the multi-stage approach to slowly reopen businesses while attempting to maintain the decrease in COVID-19 cases. The state is currently in Stage 2 of this approach, which allows moderate-risk activities like going to libraries, museums, and indoor recreational facilities to restart. Also, outdoor dining restaurants have reopened. Many people have been able to appreciate the outdoor settings at restaurants during the hot summer days. A local restaurant in Bridgeton, The Green Olive Restaurant & Lounge, utilizes its outdoor dining area while taking the necessary precautions for its customers and employees.
For most restaurants, neither outdoor dining nor takeout compare to indoor dining, but The Green Olive’s staff are appreciative of their loyal customers that continue to support the business. Melissa Yilmaz, a staff member at the restaurant, said that the precautions taken have been effective in keeping customers and employees safe and healthy.
“It has been a challenge readjusting, but I believe we have been able to overcome quite a few obstacles,” Yilmaz said. “I feel that our state is one of the few that is taking its time because there are a lot of other states that have opened up too quickly, where masks aren’t a requirement in some spaces. In those states, several restaurants are open indoors, but they are already shutting down because COVID-19 cases are rising.”
Yilmaz thinks that her restaurant should’ve been able to reopen at least at 25% capacity. Aside from that, she’s happy with New Jersey’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
To maintain a clean and healthy business environment, Yilmaz said that all employees are required to wear masks and gloves. They change their gloves whenever they serve different customers, and there are also sanitization stations placed throughout the building.
Adhering to the New Jersey guidelines, dining tables are placed strategically in the outdoor setting maintaining a six-foot distance, and plastic barriers are placed between employees and the customers at the register. Yilmaz wants future customers to know that the restaurant and its employees put health and safety first.
Despite recent events, the staff of The Olive Green remains positive that Phase 3 will be initiated soon, which includes expanded dining. Yilmaz and the team are looking forward to activities returning to normal, but hold steadfast until that time comes. This Italian restaurant is dedicated to serving its customers not just a delicious meal, but also the best experience possible.
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This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.