Businesses set to reopen, but will customers show up?

Matt Hamilton/Daily Citizen-News

William Faulk fries onion rings in the Oakwood Cafe kitchen on Tuesday. Owner Kasey Carpenter said the restaurant has already adopted policies such as requiring employees to wear masks that he expects will be announced by Gov. Brian Kemp as part of his effort to reopen the state's economy.

Many businesses across the state will be reopening on Friday, after Gov. Brian Kemp announced Monday he was easing some restrictions on economic activity he put into place three weeks ago to slow the spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19).

But some Dalton business owners said Tuesday they don't believe there will be a rush of customers right away.

Under Kemp's new order, gyms, bowling alleys, hair salons, massage therapists, tattoo parlors, barber shops and similar businesses will be allowed to reopen on Friday, as long as they continue to comply with social distancing guidelines and maintain strict cleaning standards and employees wear a mask and gloves where appropriate.

This coming Monday, movie theaters can reopen and restaurants — which had been limited to carry-out, curbside pickup and delivery — can resume dining service. Kemp's office said it will be releasing further guidance on the standards they must meet later this week.

"We don't know what the restrictions will be yet," said state Rep. Kasey Carpenter, R-Dalton, owner of the Oakwood Cafe and Cherokee Brewing + Pizza Company.

"I assume it will be very much like President Trump talked about, which is six is the maximum-size party and you have to have 6 feet between parties," said Carpenter.

Carpenter said such requirements could cut the seating capacity in his restaurants in half.

He said he also expects guidelines on employee health such as requiring them to wear masks and taking their temperature when they arrive at work.

"We are already doing that now," Carpenter said. "In the restaurant business, we are used to dealing with the health department and meeting health standards."

T.J. Kaikobad, owner of Cyra’s – Simple Goodness, said he had already implemented social distancing before Kemp closed restaurants for dining, placing tables 6 feet apart as well as adopting paper menus that were tossed away after a customer used them.

Both men said business at local restaurants was down before Kemp closed them for inside dining and they don't expect dine-in business to pick up anytime soon.

"There are probably a few people who are eager to get out and will rush back," said Kaikobad. "But most people I think are going to be more cautious."

"It's going to take a few weeks," said Carpenter. "That's why I think Gov. Kemp was right to do this now. If he'd waited until June business might not come back until July, and a lot of businesses couldn't survive that."

Dana Sapp, owner of Oasis Hair and Nail Salon, said she has already gotten calls from customers asking if she's going to reopen. She said she plans to do so, but with some changes. For one, she plans to take only two customers each day.

"That will give me the opportunity to thoroughly clean everything between customers," she said.

And the customer can't bring anyone else. Sapp said both the stylist and the customer will wear masks, and the stylist will wear gloves and a gown to cover herself.

"We are going to act as if everyone is infected," she said.

But Sapp, who said she lost a friend to the coronavirus, said she isn't happy that Kemp decided to reopen businesses.

"I do think this will backfire," she said. "I do think we will see infections go back up."

Kemp's order supersedes any local guidelines, whether less restrictive or more restrictive.

Dalton Mayor David Pennington said there are "no good answers" on when to reopen.

"We are already in a depression," he said. "People my age and younger have never experienced that. And there are some people who still aren't feeling it. But we had 22 million people unemployed in the last month."

But Pennington said there are also legitimate health concerns, and he said customers for retail businesses probably aren't going to come back in large numbers until the medical community tells them it's safe.

"That's what's going to give them confidence," he said.

Pennington said City of Dalton buildings will reopen next week.

Whitfield County Board of Commissioners Chairman Lynn Laughter said it hasn't been determined when county buildings will reopen but County Administrator Mark Gibson is working on a plan to reopen them.

Many businesses across the state will be reopening on Friday, after Gov. Brian Kemp announced Monday he was easing some restrictions on economic activity he put into place three weeks ago to slow the spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19).

But some Dalton business owners said Tuesday they don't believe there will be a rush of customers right away.

Under Kemp's new order, gyms, bowling alleys, hair salons, massage therapists, tattoo parlors, barber shops and similar businesses will be allowed to reopen on Friday, as long as they continue to comply with social distancing guidelines and maintain strict cleaning standards and employees wear a mask and gloves where appropriate.

This coming Monday, movie theaters can reopen and restaurants — which had been limited to carry-out, curbside pickup and delivery — can resume dining service. Kemp's office said it will be releasing further guidance on the standards they must meet later this week.

"We don't know what the restrictions will be yet," said state Rep. Kasey Carpenter, R-Dalton, owner of the Oakwood Cafe and Cherokee Brewing + Pizza Company.

"I assume it will be very much like President Trump talked about, which is six is the maximum-size party and you have to have 6 feet between parties," said Carpenter.

Carpenter said such requirements could cut the seating capacity in his restaurants in half.

He said he also expects guidelines on employee health such as requiring them to wear masks and taking their temperature when they arrive at work.

"We are already doing that now," Carpenter said. "In the restaurant business, we are used to dealing with the health department and meeting health standards."

T.J. Kaikobad, owner of Cyra’s – Simple Goodness, said he had already implemented social distancing before Kemp closed restaurants for dining, placing tables 6 feet apart as well as adopting paper menus that were tossed away after a customer used them.

Both men said business at local restaurants was down before Kemp closed them for inside dining and they don't expect dine-in business to pick up anytime soon.

"There are probably a few people who are eager to get out and will rush back," said Kaikobad. "But most people I think are going to be more cautious."

"It's going to take a few weeks," said Carpenter. "That's why I think Gov. Kemp was right to do this now. If he'd waited until June business might not come back until July, and a lot of businesses couldn't survive that."

Dana Sapp, owner of Oasis Hair and Nail Salon, said she has already gotten calls from customers asking if she's going to reopen. She said she plans to do so, but with some changes. For one, she plans to take only two customers each day.

"That will give me the opportunity to thoroughly clean everything between customers," she said.

And the customer can't bring anyone else. Sapp said both the stylist and the customer will wear masks, and the stylist will wear gloves and a gown to cover herself.

"We are going to act as if everyone is infected," she said.

But Sapp, who said she lost a friend to the coronavirus, said she isn't happy that Kemp decided to reopen businesses.

"I do think this will backfire," she said. "I do think we will see infections go back up."

Kemp's order supersedes any local guidelines, whether less restrictive or more restrictive.

Dalton Mayor David Pennington said there are "no good answers" on when to reopen.

"We are already in a depression," he said. "People my age and younger have never experienced that. And there are some people who still aren't feeling it. But we had 22 million people unemployed in the last month."

But Pennington said there are also legitimate health concerns, and he said customers for retail businesses probably aren't going to come back in large numbers until the medical community tells them it's safe.

"That's what's going to give them confidence," he said.

Pennington said City of Dalton buildings will reopen next week.

Whitfield County Board of Commissioners Chairman Lynn Laughter said it hasn't been determined when county buildings will reopen but County Administrator Mark Gibson is working on a plan to reopen them.

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