Kennett Square is safely coming back to life in this yellow phase of reopening. Restaurants and merchants have been pivoting and adapting in lots of creative ways over the course of the shutdown, including making investments in online shopping and ordering options. While many continue to offer curbside pickup and delivery and private in-store shopping appointments, they’re also beginning to offer experiences that feel a bit more normal, like outside or window-side dining as well as limited regular business hours. It’s even beginning to feel a little more like summer with a bounty of early summer produce at the Kennett Square Farmers Market,  the return of (physically distant) outdoor dining, and the season’s signature La Michoacana Ice Cream open for business.

The news that the 100 block of East State Street will be closed to vehicle traffic on Thursday evenings from 5pm to 10pm, and then again from 5pm on Fridays to 10pm on Sundays, will allow for more outdoor dining and enable businesses to expand outside over the weekends. Even outdoors, it’s important to continue to adhere to all state and local safety guidelines for public spaces, including physical distancing and mask wearing at all times except when seated at a table. The 100 block of West State Street will remain open to traffic to allow for easy access to, and pickup from, Talula’s, Lily, Grain, Philter, the Market at Liberty Place, Nomadic Pies, and other businesses on that block.

The situation in yellow remains fluid, and Historic Kennett Square is maintaining an updated web page with opening hours and links for individual businesses. Heather Robitzer of No. 109 Shop sums it up by saying, “We’re back, and we’re excited!”

In efforts to keep everyone safe, shopping has a more personal and exclusive feel, with limited maximum occupancy in shops, physically distanced queues and tables for dining, hand sanitizer stations, different policies around trying on and returning clothes, sneeze guards, and mandatory face masks. Merchants are delighted to provide personal attention and expertise to help customers update their summer wardrobes.

Clean Slate has a selection of handsewn masks from Thailand in adult and children’s sizes. For each mask sold, a second is donated to a healthcare or essential worker for personal use.

In addition to caution and continued vigilance, patience and kindness are the watchwords. The coronavirus is present in our community, and so continued vigilance in hand washing and physical distancing is critical. Patience is essential, as most processes and transactions take a little more time right now. Practicing kindness is also important, as we wear masks to protect others—and especially the most vulnerable among us.

Speaking of masks, Dr. Ricky Haug of Core Family Practice offers some advice: “Based on the CDC and department of health guidelines, masks are still recommended and encouraged in all public settings in which social distancing (6 ft.) is difficult to maintain.” And it’s most important to remember, he says, that masks help protect others. “Although many of these social distancing and protection tools feel foreign to us, it’s important that we all do our part, as much as we can, to prevent further spread of COVID-19,” Haug says.

Maura Grace carries a selection of masks in fun fabrics to match every outfit.

The proliferation of designs and options means that there’s a mask to fit your personal style. Lots of local shops have you covered with masks that are fun as well as functional.

As this season’s new fashion accessory, masks can be another way to make a statement and tell your story. Some masks come with a story all their own. For every handsewn mask from Tanzania or Thailand you buy at Clean Slate Goods, a second mask will be donated to someone in need. Clean Slate has masks in both adult and children’s sizes, in a variety of colorful prints, with pockets to add your own filter. “I’ve found it helpful to have multiple masks on hand,” says Kari Matthews, owner of Clean Slate. “One in your purse, one in the car, etc. I machine wash them in a zippered mesh bag in the washing machine, then hang to air dry.”

worKS is selling reversible masks by local maker @Merelymere.

At Maura Grace Boutique, owner Katie Holsten says, “We want to encourage our customers to wear masks the best way we know how… by offering adorable options! Our theory is, it’s suggested you wear masks during this time—not only for your safety, but the safety of others—so let’s make them cute!”

Other local sources of face masks include Lily Asian Cuisine (pick up a mask with your takeout!). Bee Our Guest—our own local manufacturer of natural beeswax wraps—has pivoted to create face masks in both adult and children’s sizes, available online or at the Kennett Square Farmers Market. And Merely Mere has created reversible masks that are available at Kennett Square’s newest “drive through” at worKS. At Green Eyed Lady, find face masks you can customize with your choice of fun patches. Masks are part of our story right now and enable us to express our caution, kindness, and style in Kennett Square this season.