By Barbara High

Tribune Staff Writer

As America began to move forward during the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants in West Virginia were advised they could reopen for indoor dining by Memorial Day weekend.

Many of them did, but others are adopting a wait-and-see attitude as various counties see their rates of infection fluctuate back and forth.

Those that are reopening their dining areas are to use only 50 percent of their dining capacity in order to allow patrons to observe social distancing.

In announcing the lifting of the ban on indoor dining, Gov. Jim Justice said he was confident that the restaurant industry was ready to do all that is required to reopen their doors, including not allowing those waiting on tables to congregate in the restaurant, keeping parties less than six people, and taking precautions for those touching menus and other items.

One local restaurant that recently reopened to indoor dining is Denny’s in Keyser. According to Beverly Fife, one of the store’s managers, the restaurant’s indoor dining area opened Wednesday, May 20. Fife said that they would be following Justice’s plan for opening back up by keeping the seating at 50 percent capacity.

To do that, she said they would only have half the tables available and the tables would be placed six feet apart.

The staff would be required to wear masks and gloves when handling food. Extra sanitation efforts would be used, including making hand sanitizer available for customers as well as staff. Tables, menus, and bottles handled by the customers and staff will also be disinfected.

If the dining area is at capacity, customers will be asked to remain in their cars outside if they would like to wait. Denny’s will arrange a call or text when a party’s table is ready.

Denny’s had changed its hours of operation amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and they will be expanding their hours now from 7 a.m. until midnight. They look forward to opening with full time hours in the future.

Not all restaurants are ready to reopen dining areas, however. Kirk Kesner, owner of Fox’s Pizza in Keyser, told the News Tribune he is not prepared to reopen his indoor dining area at this time, but it is something he would consider again in a few weeks.

“We are installing shields, and we’re doing extra cleaning and sanitation,” he said. “So we’re waiting to see for the safety of our staff and our community.

“We’re going to ride it out and hope for the best,” he said. “It’s the safety of my staff and our friends in the community that matter.”

Fox’s will continue to be available for carryout, curbside service and delivery.