THE NEW NORMAL Statesville adjusts to new restrictions, caution as coronavirus reach grows

  

Empty restaurant dining rooms Wednesday showcased the impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on Statesville.

Across the city — and throughout Iredell County — restaurants closed their doors to indoor diners. Some already offered curbside services while others scrambled to adjust, but all were working to protect the public and their employees. Gov. Roy Cooper banned in-dining room eating at restaurants as of late Tuesday.

On Wednesday, businesses across Statesville were showcasing their ability to adjust. Signs abounded across town with instructions on how to order online while curbsides sported cars pulling up with employees running out to take them their food. Restaurants long accustomed to a drive-thru experience were also racing to meet the demand.

It truly is a new world right now, and one that looks dramatically different here — and everywhere — than it did a week ago. With 63 cases of coronavirus in North Carolina as of the official count on Wednesday morning, and one presumptive case in Iredell County, the landscape is changing quickly and dramatically.

A trip through downtown Statesville showcased shuttered dining rooms as well as other businesses with limited traffic. Instead of a lunchtime sidewalk filled with people, there were only a handful out and about. Most businesses looked to have few customers.

The dining area of Randy’s BBQ in Statesville was silent during lunch hours on Wednesday.

“We’re so proud of the community for taking strides to protect each other. Our heart thrives when we see a full restaurant. Our heart beats,” said manager Candy Mullins. “It’s disheartening, but we’re in it like everyone else. We’re doing what’s best for everyone.”

With dining rooms closed, lunch customers enjoyed sunny March weather at the outdoor tables in downtown Statesville.

Rick Williams, who ate in front of Sub Express, said he wouldn’t usually eat outside in other circumstances, but it was a nice day for it.

“I think it (the coronavirus) is something we should take seriously,” Williams said. “We need to do what we can to keep the curve (of cases) down.”

At schools this week, lunchrooms sit empty while drive-thru lines are set up where every student can pick up a meal. On Wednesday, the Mooresville Graded School was handing out educational packets as educational facilities shift to virtual learning for the coming weeks. Earlier this week, Cooper closed all public schools for at least two weeks. With schools closed and students home, parents across the county are adapting to helping with virtual learning.

There are no sports — high school seasons have been postponed until at least April 6 and virtually every college and professional league is sidelined.

All in all, it’s a different world than it was a week ago — especially for those operating and frequenting local restaurants.

Williams said for customers not eating in the dining room of restaurants was a small adjustment.

“I think it wouldn’t hurt,” Williams said. “Why take the chance?”

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