Opening up in Fairfield

FAIRFIELD — Spirits were high during the week as the first phase of softening of COVID-19 restrictions came to town.

And while traditions like the Memorial Day parade can’t occur in 2020, residents are at least getting some motivation to get out and about, enjoy a little taste of normalcy and also help the many small local businesses that have been hamstrung by the closures of early spring.

“I think this will not only help us, but the stores as well,” said Karen Ulloa of Fairfield, who was out shopping on Friday with her daughter, Emily, 11. “It’s great for both of us.”

“She was excited to go out and make a run,” she said of her daughter, who helped her discover the Post Road store Ciao Bello through Instagram. “It’s our first time here.”

“It’s been a tough couple of months with our doors closed,” said owner Janice Briguglio, who encourages everyone to remember their local shops in the days ahead.

“I know people are cautious,” she said, “and we’re taking every precaution to maintain a healthy environment for our customers.”

“This is liberating,” said Jeff Lovanio of Fairfield, who was out for lunch at Geronimo’s Bar & Grill on Friday with Tara Arnold, also of Fairfield. “It’s been three months and we’re done cooking.”

“And they’ve been great,” Arnold said, noting she felt safe with the precautions being taken by this and other establishments.

Still, some people want to take it slow, like Rose Mary Cordaro of Westport, who has a weekly standing outdoor lunch on Sherman Green with her friend Peg Carbone of Fairfield.

“I feel like you can’t flip a switch,” Cordaro said. “We’re both cautious. We don’t know if we’re likely to hit a restaurant.”

“I’m still going to be more cautious, (but) I’m trying to stay positive and follow directions,” Carbone said.

“I’d like to be optimistic, but I have a feeling people are going to let their guard down,” said Larry Smith of Norwalk, a wine merchant who has suffered through the troubles in Italy and now in the U.S. in terms of his supply line drying up.

“A lot of restaurants are just shutting their doors,” he said, while others fight to stay afloat.

Still, he and others are hoping that this first phase of reopening is not taken for granted and only leads to better things for everyone.