After months of sheltering in place, people are eager to escape their homes. And, once many Centennial State businesses were given permission to reopen in early May, they were also keen to serve as your way station back into the world.
However, it’s anything but business as usual in Colorado, with owners complying with state, city, and county regulations intended to keep residents safe and stymie the spread of the novel coronavirus. Weeks after the state’s Safer At Home order went into effect, we talked to a handful of business owners from Loveland to Parker about the challenges of keeping their customers and staff protected.
Prior to the pandemic, Tommy’s Barbers & Blades in downtown Loveland—which also sells knifes and blades—was a hangout spot, owner Tommy Ward says, where revelers could enjoy the beer and wine served on-site. Now, face masks are required for all customers and employees. “People generally have a beer or two while they’re waiting for a haircut. Obviously, when you’re wearing masks that makes it next to impossible,” Ward says.
In addition to face masks, customers must complete a questionnaire in the event that contact tracing is required. Guests’ temperatures are taken, and anyone with a fever of 100.5 degrees or higher is not allowed inside. “I jokingly tell [customers] at the door when I greet them that it’s Dr. Tommy’s Barbers & Blades from now on,” Ward says.
Between clients, stylists change smocks and capes; all stations and chairs—which sit six feet apart—are sanitized. The 2,000-square-foot shop allows 10 or fewer people inside. Ward says there have been times when he’s greeted customers at their cars and asked them to stay put until someone inside the shop leaves. Dr. Ward, too, has been forced to take this medicine and waited outside his own business while stylists worked with clients.
MY SALON Suite—a national franchise that rents space for hairstylists, nail artists, massage therapists, tattoo artists, and other beauty professionals—is asking customers to remain in their vehicles until their appointments. “The beauty professionals let [the customers] know when they’re ready for them and then greet them at the door, where they take their temperature, make sure they’re wearing a mask, and then escort them into their suite,” says Natalie Sperr, owner of MY SALON Suite in Westminster and Louisville. Sperr says other safety measures include nightly professional cleanings, hand sanitizer stations throughout the building, and frequently wiping down the common area.
Under the state’s Safer at Home order, “Personal training and classes in any setting are limited to all members of a single household or a mixed group of four or fewer individuals complying with Social Distancing Requirements.” That mandate is forcing gyms to offer modified schedules and limited class sizes.
Centennial-based Bodhi Pilates reopened for one-on-one lessons on May 9 and began holding larger in-person classes on March 18. However, only four clients are allowed in each, owner Laura McKaskle says, down from a typical max of six.
Face masks must be worn by both instructors and guests. In addition, clients are required to bring their own towels and place them between themselves and the workout equipment. They must wash their hands after they enter the studio. “We also want our clients to feel comfortable,” McKaskle says, adding that Bodhi will continue offering virtual classes.
Another fitness studio, Core Progression, usually caps classes at eight, but under the Safer at Home order, owner Jon Cerf and his trainers have had to modify workouts. The facility is offering personal training and only allowing 10 people, including both clients and trainers, inside at a time. In-person classes will begin in June. “We’re giving people multiple options based off of their own personal preferences,” Cerf says.
Trainers at Core Progression must wear masks and abide by social distancing requirements when working with clients. Each trainer has their own disinfectant spray bottle to wipe down equipment, and disinfectant wipes are scattered throughout the gym. Equipment is cleaned before and after each use, Cerf says. “I think the nice thing about personal training is you can really keep tabs on who’s touching what,” he says.
When retail stories were allowed to open on May 9, children’s boutique Petit Parker and Co. did exactly that.
At the Parker-based business, employees are wearing masks and customers are encouraged to do the same, says owner Jill Callan. Aside from cleaning commonly touched surfaces and offering contactless payment, Callan’s safety precautions include limiting the combined number of shoppers and staff inside to four at a time.
The biggest change for the store is what happens after customers try on an article of clothing. Garments that aren’t purchased must be steamed and placed in the back room for two days before returning to the rack, Callan says.
Not everyone is sprinting to reopen their doors, though. SOL, which stands for Store of Lingerie, closed its Cherry Creek shop in mid-March and is considering opening in early June, co-owner Jeanie Peterson says. “We are definitely on the more cautious side of retailers because our one-on-one with customers is different than if you walk into one of our neighbors,” she says. “[There] is not only a lot of advice that happens with your bra fitter…but as a result, you get to try on quite a bit of things. We’re really wanting to be conscientious about how we approach that situation.”
When SOL reopens, Peterson says they will start with private appointments only, allowing up to 10 people, including staff, in the building at once. Masks will be required, and cleaning will be heightened. “Honestly, a lot of our plans are somewhat fluid because we’re really, really eager to see what happens with the data,” she says. SOL continues to offer virtual consultations, delivery, and curbside pick-up.