Shannon Whitehead said she’s eager to open her salon business. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO
Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that Phase 1 was approved by Gov. Kate Brown on Thursday.
Reopening Creswell will look like “our community coming back to life, albeit slowly,” said Creswell Mayor Richard Zettervall. Lane County has been approved to begin Phase 1 of Governor Kate Brown’s reopening plan for Oregon.
Phase 1 will begin for Lane County on Friday, May 15. The types of restrictions that are relaxed in Phase 1, and by how much, are determined by the State. Counties are responsible for demonstrating that local systems (private and public) are in place to continue providing a public health response to COVID-19.
Those businesses slated to reopen once the county reaches Phase 1 include barber shops and other personal-care businesses, gyms and in-restaurant dining, and business owners are planning ahead while also playing the waiting game.
Closed since the lockdown, the Round-Up Saloon at 13 N. Front St. plans to reopen on Monday, May 18, said Dee Parent, bartender.
Businesses reopening come with physical-distance and sanitizing caveats, including group gatherings limited to 25 people, social distancing and increased sanitizing methods. Parent said the staff is busy spacing out tables, installing plexiglass and planning ways to minimize staff-customer exposure.
The bar is installing a plexiglass divide between the bar and the backstop, and also between each video lottery machine, Parent said, and customers will be required to order at the counter, limiting waitress interaction on the floor. Before and after each use of a video lottery machine, customers are required to inform staff so that they can sanitize the machines.
Despite being a relatively young business in downtown Springfield, Jasper's Tavern at 416 Main St. has seen a steady stream of take-out customers to sustain the business through the pandemic, said owner Gregory Melitsoff.
He said he is waiting to see how Phase 1 rolls out and its stipulations before defining an official reopening date. Though with plenty of room in the dining area, and with all operations in place to reopen, Melitsoff said it’ll be an easy and fast switch to reopen dining once the county gets the green light.
With not quite as much room to work with in the coffee shop, Blue Valley Bistro owners Seth and Melissa Clark are planning to reopen the interior, but need to wait until the weather breaks.
“Because of the space restrictions, I can really only have about three tables inside, so we’re hoping for nice weather and we can just have people sit outside,” Seth said.
The Beauty Boutique in Creswell plans to resume hair, nails, and esthetics by appointment on May 18, said Kristin Micklewright, public relations manager.
“As a small local business, we are definitely overwhelmed and wanting to make sure we have everything in place in accordance with Oregon Health Authority guidelines before we reopen,” Micklewright said. Some businesses, like beauty salons, will be required to keep customer lists to help with contact tracing. “We are spending this time working to get our salon as safe as possible for staff and clients to return to a little bit of normalcy,” Micklewright said.
Across the state, effective on May 15, childcare will be open to all with a priority on essential workers; summer school, summer camps and other youth programs will open; and state park day use areas and boat ramps will reopen. Retail such as furniture shops, art galleries, jewelry stores and boutiques will operate under new retail guidelines.
“Creswell has felt somewhat like a ghost town over the last few weeks and has felt so surreal,” Zettercall said. “I really look forward to seeing customers shopping and spending money at our small businesses.”
Zettervall reminds residents that businesses will start to reopen behavior must not change.
“With all of the talk of reopening Oregon … it will still come with a continuation of good social distancing practice, wearing masks or cloth face coverings if you feel sick or are in the high risk category,” Zettervall said. “All of us must continue to practice good hygiene by washing your hands frequently and practice proper social distancing.”
I know that people are very eager to get back to life as we knew it prior to the COVID-19 crisis; so am I,” Zettervall said. “We have to remember that life will not truly come back to normal until a cure and/or a vaccine is found. This could still take some time. Some experts say that it could be up to a year or more. This will be our new normal for the foreseeable future, and the last thing we want to see is an explosion of new COVID cases. That could cause further suffering to our economy and in the families who may lose loved ones.”
Relaxation of the measures could be halted or reversed if the county experiences more than three cases that are not epidemiologically linked and if hospitalization numbers go up, officials said. Further, if there are significant outbreaks in individual communities or specific settings, a targeted lockdown may be exercised to contain the virus.
A county will remain in Phase I for at least 21 days before a potential move to Phase II. The goal is to expand gathering sizes, allow office work, and begin visitation care, according to the plan.