BOISE, Idaho — In less than two weeks, stage two of Idaho Governor Brad Little’s plan to reopen Idaho is scheduled to go into effect.
That could change if the coronavirus situation in Idaho dramatically worsens, but whenever that next stage begins, it will be welcome news to the owners of restaurants ordered to stop dine-in service back in mid-March.
“The first three weeks, in particular, were pretty scary,” said Jasson Parra, owner of Lemon Tree Co. in Boise.
Like many business operators, Parra had to adjust to what some call the "new normal," which meant closing dine-in restaurant services and switching to a new business model: take-out and delivery service only.
“We've been able to progress and develop some momentum. So now we're in a much better spot,” Parra said.
Under stage two, restaurants, general businesses, gyms and close contact services are allowed to reopen. Close contact services include massage therapy facilities, barbershops, and hair and nail salons.
According to the Idaho Rebounds website, all businesses reopening should develop a plan that lays out how they'll maintain physical distance, among other protocols.
However, only restaurants will need to submit those plans to their local public health district.
“We have over a hundred that have already been submitted, and we are currently reviewing those,” said Tyler Jordan with Central District Health. “A lot of places are maybe going down to 50 percent dining population or maybe using every other table and making sure that they're following social distancing guidelines as best that they can.”
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Farrah and Aki Kalatzakis own Meraki Greek Street Food. They haven't submitted their plan just yet, but they're looking at the protocols and developing one so that come May 16, they'll be able to reopen their doors.
“We're cautiously excited,” Farrah Kalatzakis said. “For us and probably for everyone it's just making sure that customer safety is the number one priority.”
Meraki's will continue to offer take-out and deliver service when its dining room reopens.
When it comes to places like salons, Central District Health understands not every establishment will be able to follow every guideline.
“So, with those being up close and personal some if that stuff won’t be applicable but as long as they limit people waiting around, maybe do appointments only that's going to be the best possible thing,” Jordan said.
He also recommends workers wear personal protective equipment.
As for Lemon Tree Co. that restaurant will remain as-is for now.
“We're going to stay pat and we're going to continue to do what we've been doing,” Parra said. “So we're not going to accept or allow folks to dine in quite yet, we're probably looking toward June to make that decision. It’s generally really for the safety of everybody.”
Another concern that's come up as businesses reopen, or make plans to, relates to a recommendation that people pay by card or by using remote methods - such as phone or online payment - to reduce the amount of contact between customers and cashiers.
The health department representatives we talked to said rumors that customers wouldn't be allowed to pay with cash are not true.
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