To go out or not to go out? Many residents are choosing the first option since Massachusetts lifted the COVID-19 restrictions on May 29th – more than a year after they were put in pace in March 2020. 

Now that places are opening up and capacity limits have ended, Connecting Point‘s Brian Sullivan traveled to Southern Berkshire County and visited Egremont Village Inn and Barn and Moe’s Tavern to see how people are enjoying their newfound freedoms. 

Read the full transcript:

Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: To go out or not to go out? Many residents are choosing the first option since May 29th when the state of Massachusetts lifted the restrictions that had been in place since early spring of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

And now that places are opening up and capacity limits have ended, Connecting Point’s Brian Sullivan traveled to a pair of venues in the southern Berkshires to see how people are enjoying their newfound freedoms.

Brian Sullivan, Connecting Point: Fancy footwork on the stone driveway dance floor? Glasses raised as friends get together and discuss whatever it is that’s happened since the last time they spoke? What year is this? 2019? No, this is June of 2021.

And like students rushing the door as the last buzzer rings before summer vacation, so too are many adults to their local public houses and outdoor dining and live music venues. They’ve been doing so in large numbers since May 29th, when the state of Massachusetts lifted most of its restrictions.

And the early returns are in at the Barn in Egremont. So far, things are looking good.

Jenny Rubin, Egremont Village Inn and Barn: People keep coming, and it kind of is like — it’s an exhilarating feeling, seeing all these people here.

Yeah, we set up for a few extra people and this year there’s so many more and there’s so many more tables. So, we keep adding them.

Nick Keene, Egremont Village Inn and Barn: The vibe is fantastic. The other night, it was one of the first shows of the season, people — and we actually were inside because of rain — and people are starting to dance. And it was like the birth cries of people beginning to dance, and there’s everybody — even the way they’re dancing “Oh my God, I can dance again!”

Being able to bear witness to people begin to loosen up and to restore themselves, right? And give themselves permission to get the good medicine of community and music together is the is the whole reason that we do this.

Brian Sullivan: And if it’s true for the outdoor experience here in Egremont, then the same can be said for those gathering indoors in the town of Lee.

Josh Cohen, Moe’s Tavern: And there’s a lot more smiling in the first two weeks. We’ll see how much longer that lasts, but with me and everybody else.

But no, the customers — they all just seem elated to just be out and about, to see each other’s faces. There’s no more “Oh, is that you?” they can see each other.

Brian Sullivan: For those turning off of Main Street onto Railroad Street in Lee for the first time to go to Moe’s Tavern, the place probably just seems like a cool, tidy, and well-organized pint-sized pub with a lot of room to move and an impressive selection of beer and whiskey.

The regulars, however, are seeing the results of a structural overhaul that took place during a 14-month-long closure from March of 2020 to May 29th of 2021.

Josh Cohen: The people that have been here before, they’re seeing a totally transformed space, a major transformation. It’s more than a renovation. This was this was a major rebuild, reconfiguration. Nothing’s in the same spot.

Brian Sullivan: But while Moe’s was shut down for the past year to create a space that would better serve their customer base, the Barn stayed open while they could, by complying with the restrictions of 2020 that continued until the end of May of this year.

In doing so, they went from being an indoor venue to a primarily outdoor one by creating this seating area that still maintains the intimacy of being up close and personal with the artists. And as more and more people showed up, even I was able to soak in that experience from the outer edge of this green.

In May or June of last year, the idea of having full crowds here again seemed like some kind of far-off dream. Fast forward a year and they have expanded their outdoor seating from this courtyard to the field over there to accommodate the overflow.

But just like last year when the state ended the temporary licenses granted to restaurants across the Commonwealth for outdoor dining in the early fall, they plan to rescind those licenses again this year. Only this time, it could be in August.

Nick Keene: Right in the middle of August, it’s a hairy time to do it. And, you know, they haven’t done it yet, but that was the last — maybe they’ve snapped at him and said, “oh, wait a minute, maybe maybe we’ll change and give them and give them option to extend through the summer and end in September.”

And that’s what we’ve requested of the town, is that we can have just another 30 days because to be pushed back inside, in the middle of August in the heat, all of a sudden, it’s going to be interesting.

So, hopefully they hopefully they play ball and they let us stay outside for the rest of the summer.

Brian Sullivan: As for where things go for each of these places beyond the summer of 2021, the outlook appears to be one of confidence with a touch of trepidation.

Jenny Rubin: We feel like everything’s great, but like “could something happen again?” You know, there that might be there for a while.

You know, I’m not even really over-negative about anything, but there’s always that little worry in the back of our minds.

Josh Cohen: One year from now, Moe’s should be rolling right along the way it is. I’ve always gotten myself in other projects unrelated to Moe’s almost every two years. So, who knows what I’ll be doing.

But, I will still be here and Moe’s will still be here.

Nick Keene: I’m more convinced than ever that people need stuff like this and they’ve been starved, you know?

So, seeing people coming back to the fountain and drinking of it, only steels my resolve to make sure that we can continue to do it in the future.