My daughter was celebrating her birthday yesterday and, instead of a party, she wanted to bring her friends out for lunch. We made reservations about a week or so ago at a Mexican restaurant called Diego's at Bowen's Wharf in Newport. Rhode Island was open for outdoor dining, so I thought that would be a nice treat.

I checked and double-checked that it was OK for us to go into Rhode Island for a visit to Newport. According to the State of Rhode Island's website,, the governor's rules state that the 14-day quarantine rule is in place for "people returning to Rhode Island from an area still under stay-at-home order or another similar type of restriction." Since Massachusetts no longer fits into that category, we decided we were good to go for a Newport lunch.

The weather was a picture-perfect June day. As you can imagine, Newport was in midseason form yesterday. The streets were crowded with tourists that were walking, shopping and eating.

Our family hasn't been out to eat since March 11. I'll never forget, I was at Greasy Luck in New Bedford when the news came down that the NBA was suspending its season after one of the players on the Utah Jazz tested positive for COVID-19, or coronavirus as we called it back then.

As I finished up and paid for our meal, I knew that it was going to be a few weeks before we went out to eat again. I never dreamed it would be three months!

To my surprise, in addition to their outdoor seating, the restaurant was also seating people indoors, where our table was located. At first, it felt so foreign to have a meal inside a restaurant. The restaurant used paper plates, plastic utensils and cups, and paper menus. All of the servers were wearing masks at all times. Guests were required to wear masks when they weren't seated at the table.

While all of these things certainly make the dining experience different from what we are used to, I have to say that the opportunity to go out to eat made it all worth it. It's funny, as abnormal as the sight would have been three months ago, it was the most normal thing our family has done in months.

Your Complete Guide to Outdoor Dining on the SouthCoast in 2020

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