As the next phase of Colorado’s safer-at-home order takes effect, retailers, hair salons, pet groomers, tattoo parlors and other businesses reopen Friday after five weeks of mandated closures to comply with the state’s effort to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“Every small business, when they’re told they have to stop working and wait it out, it’s hard,” said Sam Eppley, owner of Sparrow Hawk Gourmet Cookware in downtown Colorado Springs. “So we’re real excited to be open and be able to help people.”
Gov. Jared Polis issued a stay-at-home order March 25 and required the temporary closure of what the state defined as nonessential businesses — hair salons, pet groomers, florists and the like. His initial order ran until April 11, then was extended until Sunday of this week.
On Monday, many nonessential businesses were allowed to launch curbside service. Now, they can open their brick-and-mortar storefronts, albeit while following local and state safety guidelines.
As such, it won’t be business as usual for many of the businesses, who have spent days and even weeks preparing for Friday.
They’ve stocked up on disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer and face masks; installed Plexiglas shields and other safeguards to protect employees and the public; and placed signs and notices on doors and windows to alert customers what to expect and what’s expected of them when they enter, including maintaining social distancing and even wearing masks in some cases.
“We recognize that it’s just kind of a whole new world now,” Eppley said. “It’s not going to be what it was in January as far as how you do business and the hustle and bustle of all that. It will be different. So that’s why we’re willing to just open and see how it goes.”
Here’s a look at how some Colorado Springs-area businesses have prepared for their reopening Friday:
Goodwill thrift stores
Bargain hunters, rejoice: Most of Goodwill’s thrift stores are reopening Friday.
Goodwill of Colorado has a dozen stores in its southern and western territories, which include the Pikes Peak region and reach as far west as Durango and Grand Junction and south to Pueblo and Canon City. The Durango store won’t open until May 15 and the Old Colorado City, at 2304 W. Colorado Ave. opens even later, on May 29, because of logistics issues, said Bradd Hafer, spokesman for Goodwill of Colorado.
The other stores open Friday, but with changes including one-way aisles, floor decals to aid social distancing, the temporary closure of dressing rooms, limiting the number of customers at one time and the use of personal protective equipment by staff. The goal with all, said Hafer, is “safety first and foremost.”
Goodwill’s retail operations are the primary funding source for the agency’s programs and services, which last year helped more than 140,000 people, Hafer says. Store-side donation centers have remained open even as store doors were closed, and Hafer encourages those who have used their quarantine time for spring cleaning to think of donating to Goodwill. “We are certainly looking for people who are trying to clear the clutter from their cupboards and closets and crawl spaces,” he said.
Goodwill, in partnership with the state’s Emergency Management Office, also is accepting donations of non-perishable food, masks, scrubs and cleaning supplies — “things that will assist other agencies in this time of crisis,” Hafer said.
Fallen Heroes Tattoo
Tattoo shops are regulated by El Paso County Public Health, so steps to keep everything clean and disease-free are nothing new to the industry. “We deal in blood and ink,” notes the website for Fallen Heroes Tattoo, “and with every person we serve, we exercise our abilities to fight against bacteria, viruses, and disease.”
Fallen Heroes already has social distancing in place, with artist’s stations at least 8 feet apart, says David Brown, who owns the business with wife Brenda. Surfaces are constantly sprayed with Cavicide, a powerful disinfectant. Items such as gloves are disposable and single-use. And, Brown says, “We’ve got more hand sanitizer in here than I know what to do with.”
Still, there will be further precautions when the shop, at 524 W. Colorado Ave., reopens Friday. Appointments will be staggered so that crowds don’t gather in the lobby. The tattoo artists will wear masks; customers will also be offered masks, though they won’t be required to wear them. Customers will be asked a few health questions and their temperatures will be taken with a touchless thermal scanner. And there will be no more crowds gathered at an artist’s station; in the past, there might be a group of college kids watching a buddy get a tattoo, “but we’re having to stop all that,” Brown says.
Fallen Heroes has 20 tattoo artists and five front-desk staff. At the beginning of the crisis, Brown says, “some guys were like, ‘Holy cow, have I tattooed somebody who has this, have I got this?'” Now, though, “everybody’s super excited to be back.”
Abba Eye Care
Abba Eye Care is reopening four of its 12 locations on Monday, including one each in Fountain and Pueblo and two in Colorado Springs, at 1130 Lake Plaza Drive, Suite 130, and 6220 E. Woodmen Road, said Benjamin Chudner, vice president of eye care and chief medical officer of AEG Vision, Abba’s Dallas-based parent company. AEG had operated 155 eye care locations in 13 states before closing all locations March 23 to all but emergency patients.
“We looked at several factors (in deciding who to reopen). We had to take into account state government guidance in the states where we operate and our capacity to reopen,” Chudner said. “We don’t know how patients will react. We believe there will be pent-up demand from being closed, but it is difficult to determine how many locations we will need.”
Abba will phase in reopenings over the next several weeks, based on demand and its capacity to adjust its operations for social distancing and government restrictions in each state, he said.
“We are taking every precaution to ensure the safety of our employees, doctors and patients. Hopefully, with proper precautions, patients will feel comfortable,” Chudner said.
To meet social-distancing guidelines, Abba will operate with one doctor per location on a reduced schedule, Chudner said. That doctor will see a patient every 30 minutes, rather than the company’s previous schedule of every 15-20 minutes. Doctors, and staff in contact with patients, will wear gloves and N-95 masks, while other staff will wear other types of masks.
Patients will be required to wear masks, and will be provided one if they don’t have their own. They also will have to fill out a brief health questionnaire and have their temperature taken before the exam, Chudner said.
All areas touched during the exam will be cleaned after each patient, and the waiting room and other common areas will be cleaned several times a day, he said.
West-side fishing emporium Angler’s Covey will reopen Friday, but the shopping experience will be far different from what it was before the coronavirus pandemic forced the store to close in mid-March, owner Dave Leinweber said.
“I’m excited. This is the beginning of the process, but I believe life is a risk worth taking. It is no life to sit inside of our homes all the time,” Leinweber said.
He is rearranging the store to create more aisles so customers can keep their distance from each other, and thus feel more comfortable. No more than 10 people at a time, including employees, will be allowed in the store, so customers will wait in a line, at least 6 feet apart, before they are invited by an employee to enter the store.
Leinweber is recalling eight of the store’s 16 employees and all will be required to wear a mask at all times. Employees will have their temperature taken and logged daily. The store will not staff its boat rental operation, which will be available by appointment only. Angler’s Covey also will resume its guided fly fishing operations, but will not provide food or transportation. Customers and guides will be required to observe social-distancing guidelines while fishing, he said.
While in the store, customers also will have to wear masks, and will be refused entrance, he said, if they aren’t wearing one or are displaying coronavirus symptoms. Once customers enter the store, they will be asked to wash their hands in the restrooms near the entrance.
This content was originally published here.