MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - After Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced that restaurants, gyms, and salons could open their doors Monday under the new updated safer at home order, many businesses began preparing their facilities for in-house guests.
After over a month of having to close their doors and adjusting to a new way of doing business during the pandemic, many of them are ready to get back in the swing of things.
When Leigh Anne Richards, the general manager of Metro Fitness, heard the news that they would be opening Monday she was in disbelief.
“I just started screaming, ‘We can open! We can open,’” said Richards. “We didn’t expect [Ivey] to do any kind of a news conference until Tuesday like she usually does, because we were expecting to open on the 16th or the end of businesses hours on the 15th, so it was a total shock.”
David Barranco, the owner of Chappy’s Deli, had a similar excitement about the reopening Monday.
“We’re ready to open it back up and get back to the good ole days,” said Barranco. “We know it’s the new good ole days coming up right now, but we are anxious to get back to it.”
Adore Hair Salon Owner Howard Brewton said, he too, is ready to welcome clients back into his shop.
“I am so happy that she is allowing us to go back in,” Brewton said. “I know that the numbers [of coronavirus cases] are still going up but we are going take big precautions to help us and our clients.”
In preparation for customers, businesses are scrambling to get ready.
“We’ve got to get in here and make sure everything is sanitized and make sure everything has been taken care of like it supposed to be,” Brewton said.
To avoid overcrowding of guests inside salons, Brewton said they are spacing out time between appointments.
“You can’t be late, because if you come in an hour late, 30 minutes late, you are going to bump into somebody else’s appointment so we will have to reschedule you," Brewton said.
Brewton said his employees will be wearing protective equipment at all times, and are requiring their clients have their temperature checked when they walk in the door. A mask is also strongly advised to be worn by all clients.
Restaurants and gyms are rearranging their furniture and workout equipment to be exactly six feet apart. Metro Fitness has already gone out of their way to mark all of their equipment and floors in their fitness studios to remind guests to abide by the social distancing rules.
“You know, the big thing is we’re wanting to be very careful about the six-foot distance,” Richards said. “So, that’s why we’ve got everything marked off.”
Richards also said they have had a hard time getting their hands on disinfecting wipes. She encourages people that have cleaning supplies like wipes at home to bring them with you to the gym.
“If you have Clorox wipes at home bring them, just like you would at the grocery store and wipe off your buggy, bring them to wipe off things at the gym,” said Richards.
She also said she is not making members wear a mask unless they want to.
“If they are really working out, truly working out hard, you would die in a mask,” Richards said. “If you want to come and walk on the track and you don’t feel like you are going to be breathing really heavy, by all means wear your mask. Some people may feel comfortable wearing gloves and that’s fine. Do what makes you feel comfortable and safe.”
Some restaurants have decided to continue to do curbside-only and some are preparing for in-house guests. Other restaurants, like Chappy’s Deli, said they plan to let their customers decide what service they feel comfortable with.
“We’re ready when people are ready, “Barranco said. “If they want to come in for the dining room we’re going to be ready in the dining room, if they want to do the carhop we’re ready on the carhop, if they want delivery we’re ready on delivery and so we’re learning like everybody and easing into this and we’re calling this our phase one opening.”
Barranco said adding the carhop service to their business is something they plan to keep, even after the pandemic ends.
“The carhop, though, has kind of evolved since this COVID-19 came about,” Barranco said. “Right now, I don’t know that we’re going to take it away.”
Gov. Ivey’s order keeps in place a limit on all retail stores to a 50 percent occupancy rate. Entertainment venues, night clubs, theaters and bowling alleys will remain closed.
Ivey’s amended order will remain in effect until 5 p.m. May 22.