RICHMOND, Va. -- After a 14-day delay, business owners in Richmond began seating customers for lunch and filling appointments for services.
Friday marked the River City’s day one of Phase One -- Governor Ralph Northam’s slow and cautious reopening of establishments during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney had requested to delay the city's reopening compared to the rest of the Commonwealth by two weeks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. Richmond joined localities in Northern Virginia and Accomack County who also began Phase One on May 29.
By 11:30 a.m. Friday, customers began sitting down for lunch on the deck at Legend Brewing Company in Manchester.
“That’s a nice sight,” said VP of Operations David Gott. “We got a lot of phone calls coming. Folks are just excited to get out.”
Gott’s staff spaced the tables more than the recommended six-feet social distancing guidelines and printed reusable menus.
Signs direct customers through a door that leads to the deck with separate entrance and exits.
“We are asking people when you enter the premises please use the hand sanitizer, please have your mask up, and please use social distancing,” Gott explained.
Legend added additional tables to their parking lot to accommodate more diners. They’ll also using disposable menus, utensils and whatever touches the table will be thrown away.
“I think the whole experience is going to be different, but I think people are tempered at this point because we have been going through this so long,” Gott said. “I think very few people are going to walk in here today think it’s going to be the Friday before we had to close the doors.”
Greg Sutphin and Shane Pierce were among Legend Brewing’s first customers in at least two months.
“We are very comfortable that there’s no health risk,” Sutphin stated. “It’s Richmond, it’s beautiful, it’s the Spring, and I’m anxious to the see the river and sit outside again.”
- Phase One means Richmond restaurants with outdoor seating can open up to 50-percent capacity.
- Churches can resume indoor service at 50-percent capacity.
- Gyms must remain closed, but can hold outdoor classes.
- Concert halls, movie theaters, and other entertainment venues remain closed.
- Salons and barbers can also open up for appointment-only visits.
Jesse Smith will experience two new starts this Spring. On Friday, he will begin accepting appointments at his Carytown shop Loose Screw Tattoo on West Cary Street.
Smith and his girlfriend also welcomed a new addition to their family.
“I just had a kid a month ago, so this has been like a forced paid paternity leave for me,” Smith explained.
The renowned tattoo artist said the requests for tattoos have been non-stop.
Smith said his shop is arguably one of the cleanest tattoo shops in the world.
“Compared to an average business we were at an eight and now we are at a 10,” he explained. “I think this shop is cleaner than your average hospital.”
He will only allow two people inside a room at a time. Other customers must wait in the lobby.
“We’ve always been very clean and safe when it comes with working with our clientele. All we have to do is step it up a little bit more, with masks of course. We also will have eye wear and aprons.”
EAT Restaurant Partners, who own about a dozen eateries like Boulevard Burger and Brew and Wong Gonzales, supported Mayor Levar Stoney’s request to delay Phase One for the city.
They plan to reopen their patios to customers on Tuesday, according to the group’s Director of Hospitality and Marketing Chris Staples.
Much of the state, including Chesterfield and Henrico counties, entered Phase One on May 15.
Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.
COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.
Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid contact with sick people.Avoid non-essential travel.