Reading Terminal Market open for grocery shopping, take out; no dine-in

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Reading Terminal Market is open.

The market is open for grocery shopping, as well as take-out orders from vendors and home food delivery, but dine-in services are restricted at least for two weeks.

Customers aren't allowed to dine-in due to new government mandates affecting businesses across the state in effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The market is normally packed all day, but chairs are now roped off, and tables have been moved from dining areas.

Mayor Jim Kenney announced the city-wide restrictions Monday and said the mandate will be in place at least through March 27.

Customers are still able to order take-out from the many vendors set up inside the market.

"I've got gloves, I've got a mask. I get a lot of flak about the mask, but I'd rather be safe than sorry," said customer Barry Williams.

Williams said he isn't sick, but that the mask helps during this stressful time.

"I'm hearing that I don't need this mask, but for me, it helps me sleep at night," Williams said.

Employees at individual vendors are working around the clock to clean and disinfect as thoroughly as possible.

"I'm going to take every precaution possible as we are here at the market and here at the shop," said Holly Widger, an employee at Sweet as Fudge.

Lester Fisher, who works at Beiler's Bakery, said, "Trying to respect what the officials are telling us to do and take precautions."

Meanwhile, online shopping services at the market are taking off.

Employees shop for customers who order on the market's website, and then deliver the items for free through a service called Mercato.

"The amount is way more than we normally do in the market. Normally people would come into the market and do their shopping, now we can do that all for you," said Mercato employee Ricardo Shultz.

The hope is that the city continues to support small businesses, who will surely need the help.

"We've been here for 127 years. We've made it through the Depression, World Wars and we'll make it through this," said Reading Terminal Market General Manager Anuj Gupta.

Mayor Kenney's administration said Monday that they're working to develop a grant and loan program in hopes of helping businesses as well as preserving jobs.
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