With Stage Two of Gov. Brad Little’s reopening plan underway, preparations are already being made for Stage Three on May 30. Alcohol establishments and water activity centers are the two business groups that will reopen at that time.
However, they’ll be reopening with long lists of protocols to consider. Those protocols suggest this summer will feel anything but normal as long as the coronavirus pandemic continues to be a threat. Expect to see face masks and social distancing even at your favorite bar or splash pad.
The Rebound Idaho guidelines state that bars, breweries, wineries and distilleries should have a reopening plans in place that implement these protocols. Establishments do not need to submit plans for approval. However, plans must be made available to agencies upon request.
Establishments should try to maintain 6 feet of distance between both patrons and customers, while limiting their customer count to 50 percent of capacity. The guidelines also suggest establishing a maximum number of people allowed per square foot. Waiting and standing areas should be eliminated. Counter and bar seating should be eliminated unless it faces a window or wall or patrons are kept 6 feet apart at the bar. Food and drinks should be ordered at and brought to the table rather than the bar counter. Employees who check IDs should wear masks and gloves. Most live entertainment is prohibited since it may “create a congregation of patrons around the entertainment.”
Other protocols in the Idaho Rebounds documents ask business owners to consider is a long list of cleaning routines and disinfecting measures, as well as suggesting employees be required to wear face masks and getting screened for fevers and other symptoms before every shift.
Many establishments have been using the time leading up to Stage Three to prepare. Chuck Chute, owner of BlackRock Fine Wine and Craft Beer, has already submitted his operating plan to Eastern Idaho Public Health. He has removed all bar stools and taken out many of his tables and chairs. He has canceled the bar’s weekly trivia and jazz band nights.
“We’ll have to see how people respond,” Chute said. “I know there are people out there who see this as a hoax, but I’m not one of them. We’re taking this very seriously.”
Only 25 people will now be allowed into BlackRock, making revenue prospects uncertain.
“We really don’t know what to expect with regards to the number of people coming in. That expense we’re losing with half capacity is going to be intense,” Chute said.
Despite the new changes, Chute is looking forward to reopening and being able to interact with the community once again.
“A lot of our customers are our friends. I literally saw people out on the street today who I used to see two or three times a week (at BlackRock). The first thing we said to each other is ‘I miss you,’” Chute said.
Idaho Brewing Co., too, has been deep cleaning and rearranging its layout to allow for social distancing. Employees will be wearing masks and limiting the number of people inside.
“It’ll be a fluid situation. It’s a whole new world we’re in,” said Nate Means, manager of Idaho Brewing Co.
Outdoor pools, splash parks and water parks are the other category of establishments allowed to open during Stage Three. The Stage Three protocol document noted that the “CDC has stated that there is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can spread directly to humans from water in pools, hot tubs or spas, or water play areas.” Like bars, these water activity centers should create a plan and have it at the ready, but do not need to submit it anywhere for approval. They also must monitor how many people are allowed in at once. These establishments have been instructed to cancel any swim lessons requiring physical contact. Kiddie pools and other busy areas should be “closely monitored” to ensure patrons are following social distancing rules. These water centers also have a long list of strict, new cleaning rules for employees.
Heise Hot Springs will open its pools on June 1. The city of Ammon will open its pool and splash pad June 1. Rexburg Rapids will open June 27.
A full list of stage three protocols can be found at rebound.idaho.gov/stages-of-reopening.