SALT LAKE CITY — Friends are gathered around a pool table, drinking beers on a Friday night at Bout Time Pub & Grub in downtown Salt Lake City.
The friends almost feel normal, until they look around. The barstools are lifted up so no one can take a seat and many of the tables are covered in a black cloth. Governor Gary Herbert moved the state’s threat level from "red" to "orange" beginning at 12:01 a.m. Friday.
“I am actually excited to see as many people as we are already," Dylan Jones said from behind the bar. "We’ve had a lot of phone calls, and I think once our kitchens open up we will have a lot more people."
Staff is working to follow all of the new guidelines put in place to keep everyone safe during this first phase of re-opening.
“Well the masks, obviously, and we are taking everyone’s temperatures, and everyone that comes through the door we have to tell them that they can’t sit with each other or have to stay six feet apart unless they are family members or roommates,” Jones said.
The chance to enjoy a night with friends was a welcome change for Trevor Naumann.
“It feels good, honestly. It feels a little bit of normalcy after a month and a half of difference,” he said.
Both Whiskey Street and White Horse in downtown Salt Lake City opened for the first time in several weeks Friday. It’s a little nerve wracking, Whiskey Street and White Horse chef and partner Matt Crandall said.
“We have taken extreme measures to disinfect and continually sanitize every 30 minutes all common surfaces. All guests and employees are all wearing masks,” he said.
It’s so good to be with friends again, a group of women said as they sipped drinks and enjoyed dinner on the patio. The one surprise to them: many places have kept their dining rooms closed.
“I thought so many places would be so anxious to open,” one woman said.
Having the chance to spend a Friday night out, even just alone at a bar helps things start to feel normal, said Skylar Smith, who lives in Salt Lake City.
“I am happy that we are taking this first step back to a cautious reintegration,” he said.