A Guide to Stepping Out in Stage 3


Dining, shopping and beauty in the midst of stage 3

I have seen several people posting about their experiences or lack thereof of feeling comfortable traveling, dining and shopping. So many people are ready to get back to normal. I even said that myself when it all began, but I honestly don’t know when I think things will be normal. I think what I am looking forward to is the day when we take all of this self reflection and self care and blend it with the advocacy we are fighting for (both for each other and for the environment) and create a new normal. 

But as things keep changing inside and out many of our states are moving forward (although a few have moved back) with their reopening plans. I have shared before that I wanted to take a measured approach to reentry. There are so many things that I miss but I also want to keep my family and friends safe and of course stay well myself too, so I haven’t been the first person out of the gate even though in Virginia we are well into stage 3. But I have ventured out a bit and I wanted to share what that has looked like for me. 

Dining Out

One of the first outings for me was a patio dinner with my husband at a local restaurant. When I shared this on Instagram the response to whether or not others had dined out yet seemed mixed. About half had already dined patio style or some had even dined in a restaurant, depending on their state’s restrictions. But the other half, particularly those with a preexisting condition or a family member with one, had not. 

What went down– We wore masks upon entry. We also had to go inside the restaurant to reach the patio. There were people dining inside because that restriction had already been lifted where we live. 

The Good– The menus were scan ready, so we were able to use our phones to access it. There was no paper or plastic menu that had been touched by anyone previously. Our waiter wore a mask the entire time. The tables were placed socially distant at least six feet apart. The open air environment felt safer to me than dining indoors. 

The Bad– It was still fairly crowded on the patio. Not as bad as some of the crowding we have seen at other places. Had that been the case we would not have stayed. 

The Verdict– I’ll still proceed with caution, be selective, and order more takeout than anything else right now. But an occasional dinner out is probably in my forecast for the next few months. 

The Nail Salon

I was certainly not interested in standing in line to get my nails done- like photos of lines that snaked around buildings that I saw in other states on the day they reopened. I had gotten pretty good at doing them at home, but after a month or so of others sharing their experience I did want to give it a try. My daughter and I decided to go get a mani-pedi together. 

Here’s what went down– We arrived and could not enter the salon. Even though our salons had been open for several weeks there were no walk-ins.  We were told to text or call regarding an appointment time and that someone would meet us outside or text when they were ready for us. Upon entering I noticed the waiting room was disassembled. 

The Good– They immediately had us go to the sink and wash our hands upon entry. They gave us a disclaimer form asking about certain risks to COVID like have we flown in the past 14 days? Did we have a fever? (etc.) My daughter and I couldn’t sit together as each pedicure chair had a chair between them that was not operable to maintain distance (reminder this is a good thing). We were all required to wear masks the entire time. And the nail counters had new plexiglass dividers that separated you from the nail tech. 

The Bad– I didn’t really see a downside to this because they have so many precautions in place. I would say my appointment ran a little longer than usual because they aren’t staffed as fully and there were added steps. All in all, getting your nails done certainly isn’t a necessity (like all of the things I am mentioning today). It’s a want not a need, so if you are someone who is uncomfortable wearing a mask for longer periods of time you’d probably want to skip this. 

The verdict– I would and have gone back, but I do space out my appointments more than I did prior to the stay at home order. 


The Virginia Beach Town Center is one of my favorite spots to shoot. I love the outdoor concept, the restaurants, small local shops and some of my favorite big businesses that have taken up residence there too. So when they reached out at just the right time for me I was thrilled.  

Here’s what went down-They asked that I visit three stores to talk about summer trends. I picked three favorites and headed their way. It was so much fun to get out and about and actually shop in the store. I think it has actually renewed my love for in-person shopping as I am more an in person browser/online shopper but sometimes absence really does make your heart grow fonder.

The good– Every store had a mask requirement and even an in-person limit in the smaller boutiques. The clerks were happy to wipe down any jewelry items or accessories I wanted to try on. Some items were unavailable to access due to COVID precautions like make-up. Even a large majority of people walking around outside had their masks on. 

The bad– Some things will still be unavailable to touch or try on right now (for example the makeup listed above) but to be honest that only makes me more comfortable. I like the precautions set in place.

The verdictI would definitely do it again. It was fun to get out but most stores do have an online option of course so I will continue to use that as well. 

Here’s a copy of the trend report. I had so much fun putting it together. You can see it here. I hope you love it as much as I do. 

I would also love to hear about your experiences if you have ventured out yet and what that was like for you too. 

Until Next Post, 

Xo Tonya Parker

P.S you can shop my dress and super cute bag here and here.






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Tonya Parker is a counselor, author and certified life coach who believes in helping women look and feel their best! Ambassador for O, The Oprah Magazine and author of Single Mom Chic

4 thoughts on “A Guide to Stepping Out in Stage 3

  1. I went to the nail and hair salon as soon as we reopened. I needed to feel a professional touch on my scalp and toes 🥰 I was the first client of the day for both. When I make another appointment I will only go on days when I walk in first. I haven’t eaten out yet but I did very little eating out before the pandemic. I take care of my mother so I may be overly cautious…

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