To borrow a phrase from just about any emergency dispatch center across the region, the reopening of Georgia’s economy seems to be on a slow roll.
Some small businesses have already opened up. Some are making plans to open while others say they’re going to try to continue to function by offering curbside service until they’re confident that the time is right get back into the swing of things.
Prior to reopening their store downtown, Ford, Gittings & Kane Jewelers staff met with Northwest Georgia Public Health Director Dr. Gary Voccio to discuss safety protocols associated with preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“We will be deep cleaning after every single client,” said Jan Fergerson, one of the owners of the jewelry store downtown. “He put our whole team at ease. Everybody was begging to come back to work but we wanted to make sure we did it safely.”
They will keep the doors locked but will allow up to six couples in at a time. Going forward, the store would continue to limit clients and follow recommendations from the medical community as times goes on.
A local boutique, Mel and Mimi’s on East Eighth Street, is also planning to hold off from reopening for at least another week.
They’ve been offering personal shopping with porch pickup and home delivery, said Mimi Weed, a co-owner of the store. She and her business partner Melanie Morris have been offering daily fashion shows on Facebook to stay in front of their customers’ eyes throughout the statewide shutdown.
“We’re going to play it by ear weekly,” Weed said. “We pray that Rome is flattening the curve but it’s still going to be a month of challenge. We’re trying to be mindful of what is best for everyone. Hopefully we’ll start to open our doors my mid-May.”
Some restaurant owners have decided to keep their in-person dining areas closed for the time being.
Linde Wentz, the owner Linde Marie’s Steakhouse in Cave Spring, was very definitive about her plans. She has decided to stay closed to dine-in service all the way through the month of May.
“Lives are more important that money,” Wentz said. “I’m all for getting everybody back opened up. But the safety of staff, myself, my children and grandchildren are far more important than people who are rushing out to socialize.”
The restaurant has 23 employees and while offering curbside service, typically has about eight employees working at any given time. She told her staff if they wanted to continue to work for her that they don’t need to be out piled up in another restaurant or shopping in big crowds.
“I go through too much when I bring groceries in and check in my food (delivery) trucks and everything else, I’m just exhausted,” Wentz said. “This is harder work that most people realize.”
Both Greg Major, the Chick-fil-A franchisee in Rome and Eddie Hasko at Bella Roma Grill said they planned to continue with drive-thru or curbside service for the time being.
“We are going to give it another week before we open (the dining room),” Hasko said. “As much as we want to open, we want everybody to be safe, too.”
Major said he was trying to put together a plan to reopen the dining room at the appropriate time but has not made any kind of decision regarding the timeline. The entire store was shut down for a time for intensive cleaning after a crew worker tested positive for the disease. Staff at the drive-thru wear face shields or masks and gloves when bringing orders out to customers.