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'This is about community': Idaho restaurants, salons, and gyms reopen to uncertainty and smiling customers

Thanks to being able to restart their livelihoods, many small business owners in the Treasure Valley are glad to be back.

BOISE, Idaho — After weeks of being forced to close their doors in the battle against COVID-19, more businesses in Idaho are now able to reopen under the second phase of Gov. Brad Little's Rebound plan.

Starting Saturday, May 16, restaurants, salons, and gyms can reopen if they meet the state's health safety requirements. Thanks to being able to restart their livelihoods, many small business owners in the Treasure Valley are glad to be back.

For Curb Bar and Grill owner Robert Truax, being forced to shut down for the last couple of months has been emotional but finally reopening has been a blessing.

"We all wanted to do a little dance this morning we were so excited, it's been wonderful so I'm very thankful today," Traux said. "I really, really appreciate the opportunity to be open and work."

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Shelby Bills, the owner of Graeber & Company Salon and Spa in downtown Boise, also feels excited, even if the new health protocols affect how she runs her business.

"We all felt like it was the first day of school again," she said. "We went from 17 stations to 13, we've moved all of them six feet apart. At the shampoo bowls, our stylists are wearing masks and they are also wearing face shields because they do lean over the guests so we wanted that extra layer of protection. They're (also) sanitizing their hands between every appointment."

Bills added that the business is also taking people's temperature when they come in, which has been well received by customers so far. "We've had people tell us they're so grateful for the extra protocols that they feel safe entering our business," she said.

Other small businesses, like D1 Training in Meridian, are also implementing new health and safety standards. Owner Doug Hall and general manager Tanner Lowry told KTVB that while they worked with a cleaning company to certify the business's cleanliness before the pandemic, they will stop offering towels and will limit how many people can attend one class.

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"If you're willing to put your trust in us to help you achieve your goals than we are obligated to be at our best," Hall said, "whether it's during a pandemic or whether it's not."

Reopening and seeing their clients on Saturday made the milestone in the Gem State's battle against the coronavirus even more rewarding.

"As soon as they came in, everybody was smiling," Lowry said. "We are in this 100% for the health and safety of our clients, that's why we got into this business."

Those thoughts were something that Robert Truax, who is also hiring a private cleaning company to ensure his business is disinfected for customers, echoed to KTVB.

"I hope people don't shame us for trying our best and saying we're all about the money, this is not about that, this is about community and yes it's about making a living but it's a lot more than that," he said, "and I hope people will continue to support us and show kindness because I'm going to give it back."

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