Reopenings: US States Take First Steps Towards New Normal

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On Friday, the first day it was allowed to reopen since the coronavirus pandemic, around thirty customers entered.

Wearing gloves, a construction face mask and a face shield, Davis said he was taking precautions to protect his staff and customers. A piece of paper on the door described the mandatory guidelines for customers, saying that they must wear a mask and gloves to enter.

He is afraid of the virus, yes. But he also worries about losing his haircut business and what it might mean to him.

“If I don’t cut, I don’t eat,” he said.

Davis’ decision to reopen comes after a number of states have begun to relax restrictions on home stays – even though the new coronavirus continues to infect and kill people. Across the country, more than 950,000 people tested positive for the virus and more than 54,000 died.

Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy authorized the reopening of lounges and restaurants in most areas of the state on Friday. Oklahoma also allowed some personal care companies to reopen their appointments on Friday. Even in California, some beaches that had been closed have reopened to the public, but with limitations.

The reopening of Georgia has been the most aggressive so far. Governor Brian Kemp has ordered reopening of hair and nail salons, gymnasiums, bowling alleys, tattoo studios and massage therapists on Friday, with theaters and restaurants to follow on Monday. The reopenings come despite warnings from health experts, local mayors and even President Donald Trump. The influential Covid-19 model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, for example, says that social distance should not be released in Georgia until June 22.

Companies that reopen must still try to maintain social distance and take measures to ensure the safety of their staff and their customers. But this is not always possible in companies with such close contact.

Xuan Le wears a mask while working on Deriana Hayward's nails at the Envy Nail Bar on Friday April 24 in Savannah.

Savannah Stafford opens her salon in Savannah, but she conceded that it is not possible to maintain a distance of six feet between a hairdresser and a client.

“You can sort of distance between the next two people in the living room,” said Stafford on Friday, “but it’s going to be difficult because we’re so active. “

Difficult first steps

Reopenings don’t mean things are back to normal. Restaurants and hairdressing salons that will reopen will have to adapt their arrangements, sanitation procedures and service methods to adapt to this new reality.

For example, Waffle House plans to reopen in Georgia on Monday with more distant seating arrangements, improved disinfection protocols and employee masks, said CEO Walt Ehmer to CNN affiliate WSB. He said part of the decision to reopen was to allow the employees to return to earn money.

“I think it could be the difference between having a job and not having a job, and I know the unemployment system has been improved to help take care of the most vulnerable, but people want a job and they want to have something to do and take care of their families, “said Ehmer. “I think it will give them some hope. “

In Douglasville, Georgia, Eric Greeson said his family’s hair salon had more business than they thought, but not as much as they wanted. At around 1:40 p.m. Friday, he said the store had nine customers, which was not far from a normal Friday.

He said he was “a little shocked” by the governor’s decision to reopen, but decided to do so in part so as not to fall behind his competitors.

“You know, we think if we don’t open, the store down the street will, and then we will lose this business. So you’re kind of stuck in a position where they say you can open, you open, “he told me.

But Samuel Glickman, founder of the Georgia Barbers Network, said he won’t reopen until he has the supplies to do it safely.

“The level of comfort is not certain,” he told CNN. “Right now, we are not safe. The items we need to open our businesses and keep our customers safe, these items are not accessible to us. “

A mayor’s apologies

For some small business owners, reopening decisions come down to mundane logistics.

Glickman said he wants customers and barbers to wash their hands often, but to do that, he has to buy a huge amount of paper towels. He tried to order paper towels online, but due to shortages, they won’t arrive for several weeks.

“As long as I don’t feel like I have at least 3 months of supplies, it doesn’t make sense to open up because I also want to comply with protocols. If I run out of supplies, should I stop again? ” he said.

Rica Sunga-Kwan, owner of Churn Urban Creamery, wears a mask during an interview in her San Francisco store on Thursday, April 23.

Customer itching to visit nail salons has spread even to places that remain locked. Mayor Becky Ames of Beaumont, Texas, had to apologize after a photo posted on social media showed her nails in a bowl in a nail salon on Tuesday, according to CNN affiliate KFDM.

Manicure salons in Texas remain closed by state home care orders. However, Ames and the owner of the nail salon told KFDM that the mayor did not have his nails done, but “soaked them in acetone to remove the powdered nails to prevent infection.”

“I put them on several weeks ago and they hurt. I was trying to remove them and text my nail lady. She said the only way to remove them is with a solution. You have to do it in a special way, “Ames told KFDM.

The mayor said that she had made arrangements to pick up the solution at the living room door so that she could take it home and remove the artificial nails. She said the owner had brought her in for a few minutes to show her how to do the process and that they were alone, both wearing masks and at least six feet apart, according to KFDM.

Ames issued an apology on Thursday for entering the nail salon, calling it “forfeiture of judgment”.

Upcoming reopening dates

In addition to Georgia, several states plan to loosen restrictions in the coming days.

In Alaska, hair salons can only admit customers by reservation, and restaurants will have to keep distances between tables and will not be able to exceed 25% of their normal capacity when they reopen on Friday. The city of Anchorage is delaying the new rules until Monday.

In Montana, which has only registered 448 confirmed cases, retail businesses can become operational on Monday or after if they meet requirements to limit capacity and maintain strict physical distance. Restaurants, bars, breweries, and distilleries can begin providing certain institutional services on May 4.

Lonnie Sullivan covers her face with a mask while having her hair cut at the Broken Arrow, Oklahoma hair salon on Friday, April 24.

Oklahoma will allow restaurants, cinemas, sports halls and gymnasiums to reopen on May 1 if they abide by “strict social distancing and sanitation protocols.” However, bars, schools and sporting events will still be closed.

In Texas, the state home care order ends in late April. Texas Governor Greg Abbott said a group of medical and economic experts would guide him through a series of progressive steps to slowly reopen the state’s economy in early May.

However, some states led by Democratic governors have also taken steps to ease restrictions. In Minnesota, Governor Tim Walz has said he will allow some businesses to reopen starting Monday.

Hawaii has lifted some restrictions today while continuing to review others, said Governor David Ige. The beaches are open for exercise, but people cannot hang out on the beach and must maintain a social distance. Elective surgeries can also take place as long as there is enough capacity, he said.

And in Colorado, Governor Jared Polis said the state’s home order would be replaced on Monday by a less restrictive “home security” phase. From Monday, retail stores with curbside delivery can reopen and elective medical procedures can resume. Businesses such as personal training and dog grooming may reopen with social isolation.

CNN’s Martin Savidge, Maria Cartaya, Natasha Chen, Kevin Conlon, Angela Barajas, Lindsay Benson, Hira Humayun, Alta Spells and Hollie Silverman contributed to this report.

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