The diner doesn't normally have outside seating. It used a section of parking lot to create some al fresco dining. Right, hand sanitizer next to the outside coffeepots.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Cheshire's Barbara and Bill Hyland wasted no time taking advantage of Phase 2 of the commonwealth's reopening from COVID-19 closures.
On Monday morning, they were dining al fresco in the improvised outdoor space at the Moonlight Diner and Grille, where they kicked off table service by opening from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
As they waited for their order to arrive from inside the pink diner, Bill said the couple was happy to have the opportunity to enjoy one of life's little pleasures once again.
"We have done very little takeout," he said. "Thank goodness, we had a full freezer at the house. We've been able to get what food we did making the trip once every two weeks to get to the store and get whatever we needed."
Citing their age and Barbara's use of portable oxygen, the pair said they have been extra cautious throughout the pandemic.
"We weren't taking any chances," Barbara said.
"We're lucky enough we're staying in communication with the family," Bill said. "Our daughter is an EMT paramedic out of North Adams, so she's seen an awful lot. We talk to her on the phone often enough.
"It's wonderful to be able to get out."
As of 9 a.m., the diner had served about a half-dozen parties at the nine tables of various sizes set up in the parking lot between the building and Main Street and partitioned off by yellow "Caution Wet Paint" tape.
On Saturday, Gov. Charlie Baker announced that Monday would mark the start of Phase 2 of the commonwealth's reopening plan for non-essential businesses.
Restaurants, which previously had been able to offer delivery or take-out service, can begin providing outdoor table service while following strict protocols. Among the rules: tables must be spaced at least 6 feet apart, parties cannot exceed six people per table, workers are required to wear face coverings and customers must also wear face coverings except when seated at their table.
Moonlight Diner owner Mike Ameen said he has been doing about 20 percent of his usual business during the pandemic. He hopes the switch from take-out to table service will help.
"For the last few months, they've had it only to-go orders, and we're not a to-go kind of place," Ameen said. "Our customers like to sit down, relax and enjoy the atmosphere.
"But in this case, we have our own parking lot out front, and we've been able to take advantage of the opportunity -- if you want to call it that. I feel bad for any business that's not able to reopen. This little reprieve helps."
Ameen said he has been able to offer a full menu throughout the pandemic and has been able to retain his full-time staff as well.
"I used the Payment Protection Program the government came out with," he said. "I had a great experience with Adams Community Bank. I applied the first day, and they got me approved seven days later."
Ameen is concerned that the loss of prime events like Williams College's commencement and reunion weekends and Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art's Fresh Grass concerts will be drain on the restaurant industry in the area. But he also was heartened by response he got from local residents on Monday.
And when the next part of Phase 2 goes into effect, the Moonlight Diner will be ready.
"Hopefully, we're working toward going in and doing what we used to do," Ameen said. "I think in the beginning, I might keep some of the outside business if I can -- if it's successful.
"Inside, we have a decent sized place, so I can separate 10 or 12 tables that can be shifted around. the plan is to stay as normal as possible."
The Hylands, who are familiar with the Moonlight Diner from the time when their son worked at the restaurant some years ago, were happy to learn that it would be open Monday morning since they were planning to be in neighborhood on other business.
And they have been happy with the way Massachusetts has reacted to the pandemic.
"The way the governor has been running the this COVID response has just been wonderful," Bill Hyland said. "I think we've ball been very cautious. Massachusetts was almost at the forefront of the disease itself hitting in the United States. And we seem to be recovering very nicely from it. We're at the forefront of that, and everyone seems to be social distancing."
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Mount Greylock School Committee Votes Down Remote Learning Start to School Year
By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Two months of input and advice from Mount Greylock’s working groups looking at the reopening of school were undone in four hours of discussion by the School Committee on Thursday night.
On a 6-1 vote, the committee directed interim superintendent Robert Putnam to submit to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education a radically different plan for the start of the year that moves more children into the school building more quickly than the administration was recommending.
Subject to approval by DESE and, not insignificantly, collective bargaining with the district’s unions, there will be no two-week period of fully remote learning as Putnam was proposing.
Putnam went into Thursday’s meeting with plans based on input from groups established in the spring and summer by him and his predecessor with the goal of getting the School Committee's blessing for the plan he has to submit to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on Friday.
Putnam laid out a plan largely like the one he presented in a virtual town hall on Tuesday evening and told the School Committee he was looking for guidance.
In a split decision on Tuesday, the Planning Board voted to recommend town meeting take no action on either of the proposed zoning bylaw amendments related to the production of marijuana. click for more
On a 6-1 vote, the Mount Greylock School Committee Thursday directed Putnam to submit to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education a radically different plan for the start of the year that moves more children into the school building more quickly than the administration was recommending. click for more
Putnam said that, depending in part on the levels of COVID-19 infection in the area, the district will, at some point, offer families the option of keeping their child or children home for remote learning or sending the children to school for part of the week in a hybrid model.
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