GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Downtown Greenville is ever-evolving as a “new normal” takes form. The city is taking extra precautions as it reopens amid COVID-19. They’re doing everything possible to encourage safe social distancing.
Some parts of Main Street are completely closed to traffic because the city wants to make sure restaurants and pedestrians can utilize the area at a safe distance.
However, Beth Brotherton said that “After hearing from businesses along Main Street that their customer flow has slowed significantly as a result of the road closure, the City will be reopening the section of Main from North to Washington tomorrow [Friday] morning.”
The section from Washington to McBee on Main will remain closed to provide for walking and dining space.
“The idea is there aren’t a lot of places along Main Street where the sidewalks are this wide,” Beth Brotherton, director of communications for the City of Greenville, said.
But, the changes are causing some confusion.
“Sometimes they have the events that happen on the weekends and I just thought maybe that’s what that was,” Victor Gant, who lives in Greenville, said.
“A lot of people think that there’s something wrong or they’re not allowed down there because it just looks like it’s barricaded,” Robert Sullivan, owner of Sully’s Steamers, said.
He said he’s already noticed a difference.
“Definitely more traffic, like actually traffic. Parking places are filling up,” Sullivan said.
And just around the corner at Sticky Fingers, they’re seeing the change too.
“I’ve never seen anything like this happen so I think it’s kind of a new norm that all the service industry is facing,” Chris Buarino, the front of house manager for the Woodruff Road location, said.
They are working on adjusting to what they call a new normal.
“We’re not just getting people sitting and squatting at the tables I mean, and the customers have been really patient and understanding,” Buarino said.
The city says originally the closed streets were meant for pedestrians, but now they’ll allow restaurants to utilize that space too.
“You still do need to contact the city and let us know that you would like to use that space in front of your business to expand your seating area,” Buarino said.
The biggest question surrounds the concrete blocks at crosswalks, but there’s an explanation for those too.
“At the moment they are simply there to keep cars from coming on the sidewalk and hurting people as they try to get back out on Main Street,” Brotherton said.
And although there are questions, people downtown are just thankful that life has been given back to the city.
“So it’s kind of nice to see that they’re opening things back up and just letting people be free again,” Gant said.
Another thing you’ll notice downtown near the closures are community police officers. If you have any questions about what is or is not allowed, they’ll be happy to help you out.
Another concern with the closed streets has been street parking.
The city encourages everyone to explore destinations off Main Street and utilize parking garages in the area.