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'We've been living in a hole': Businesses begin reopening across Dallas

Crowds hit the streets in some of the city's trendy retail areas, as phased reopening of the economy begins.

DALLAS — There was some considerable excitement in the air as businesses began doing business again as part of the phased reopening of the economy across Dallas on Friday.

Stay-at-home orders have expired in Texas and some restaurants opened up for dine-in service for the first time in more than a month and a half.

"I’m just excited to see people out and about," said business owner Pete Zotos.

There was some foot traffic in the Bishop Arts area. 

Some families hit the streets to take graduation photos. Several boutiques opened their doors. Restaurants set up patio service, but outside dining didn’t appear to be busy Friday afternoon.

It was a different story at St. Pete’s Dancing Marlin in Deep Ellum, where Zotos and his team welcomed several regulars and other guests for dine-in service. Current rules only allow restaurants to open at 25% of normal capacity.

"It’s time to get back to living, man. We’ve been living in a hole," said Zotos.

Couples and small groups were seated in the patio outside the restaurant enjoying drinks and food service. Some called the dine-in option refreshing after a tough month and a half.

"It’s really nice to be able to BS around, and talk shop, and sell some food and just have some kind of camaraderie, because it’s been a while,” Zotos said.

The team at this restaurant is taking lots of safety precautions. The staff is wearing protective gear, the owner installed hand sanitizing stations, and they’re using disposable containers, among other changes.

Not too far away, Trinity Groves was using illuminated signage to welcome people back to the trendy area for dine-in service.

Lifting local stay-at-home orders also had people packing local parks. 

The greens at Klyde Warren Park were active on Friday. Some people were wearing masks. Others were not using the recommended face coverings.

Lake Cliff Parks used signage to remind visitors to practice social distancing.

"Finally, we’re having fun,” Farah Othman said.

Getting outside was welcome relief for Othman and her family. Her cousins are visiting from another county and have not been able to return home due to COVID-19 restrictions. Othman said they were out and about, but apprehensive.

"I was kind of scared,” Othman explained. “I’m still a little bit scared, because we should be on lockdown.”

The most recent data from Dallas County shows about 81% of positive COVID-19 cases were a result of close contact or community transmission. City leaders know feelings are mixed about the phased reopening of the local economy.

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson posted a tweet urging the community to avoid unnecessary gatherings, maintain a safe distance when in public, and cover your face.

More on reopening in Texas: