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Richmond businesses react to mid-June rollback of COVID restrictions: 'I was ecstatic'

Local businesses react to mid-June roll back of COVID restrictions
Posted at 11:37 PM, May 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-10 12:39:19-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- A general manager of a popular sandwich shop in Richmond’s downtown said he anticipates mid-June to be a ‘rebirth of Richmond' following Governor Northam’s announcement that nearly all COVID-19 social distancing and capacity limits in Virginia will be rolled back by mid-June.

Northam announced Thursday that restrictions would be lifted as long as COVID cases continued to trend down and vaccinations went up. He noted that health officials are still “evaluating mask guidance.”

Secret Sandwich Society General Manager Adam Kretowicz III said he nearly dropped his iPhone when he heard the news Thursday.

“Oh my goodness, I was ecstatic,” said Kretowicz. “I immediately told the staff. Every person I told, a bright smile came to their face. From the cook to the dishwasher to the servers, they’re ecstatic. Because that means their income is going to double.”

Kretowicz said the popular downtown sandwich shop took a hit with the pandemic.

“I don’t know if you can tell, with six feet away, we’re turning away a lot of people. We’re a very busy place,” said Kretowicz.

He estimated that the restaurant was turning away about 20 to 30 customers a day and said about a third of the staff was in layaway. These staff members are now planning to return before summer begins.

“With the limitations, why would you come off unemployment knowing that you’re not going to make the money? Because with the seating limitations, it’s only a certain amount you can make,” said Kretowicz. “So with June 15 coming up, I feel everyone’s going to come off unemployment which will help the state obviously.”

Kretowicz said he believed it would be a rebirth of Richmond.

“I think it’s going to be like releasing the hounds,” Kretowicz said. “I feel everyone, you’ve been locked up for a year, you’ve gone through a roller-coaster of emotions, it’s warm and beautiful out. I think there’s going to be some sales records in June for everyone.”

Meanwhile, Mandy, Co-Owner of Shockoe Bottom Performance said Thursday’s news was a weight off her shoulders. However, at her crossfit gym, she didn’t anticipate too much change.

“We may up our class size by two just help alleviate the wait-list in some of our more popular classes,” Mandy said. “I’m hoping that it lifts people and they can start to feel more positive about life in general and not scared to go out because they can see that these numbers are going down.”