Businesses open on a limited basis Friday
Across Delaware tomorrow, many businesses owners will open their doors, some for the first time in more than six weeks.
The limited reopening, at 8 a.m., is intended to provide economic relief to citizens and businesses who are struggling financially.
But the openings, which Gov. John Carney called “baby steps,” won’t look anything like what shoppers have known for most of their lives.
“It’s not going to be the old normal,” Carney said Tuesday.
The state’s economy has reeled during the pandemic. Businesses across the state that were listed as non-essential were forced to shut their doors March 24.
In the seven weeks since Carney’s state of emergency began, more than 85,000 people in Delaware have filed for unemployment for the first time, shattering past records. State revenue is expected to plummet, and officials warn that public programs may get cut if they don’t find the money in time.
Friday’s incremental reopening is the first in a series of steps to restart the economy. The Carney administration is reopening slowly to avoid a resurgence of infections.
Retail stores, such as clothing, book or music stores, will be able to do curbside pickup. Barbershops and salons can reopen for some customers under strict rules.
People will be allowed to ride a golf cart at a golf course, but they have to ride solo and the cart has to stay sanitized. Anyone will be able to go to a drive-in movie if a business or town decides to show one, but they have to stay in their car and maintain social distancing. And the order requiring you wear a mask in many circumstances outside of home is still in place.
Not everyone is getting more leeway Friday.
Restaurants can’t allow you to dine in, and bars aren’t open yet. Gyms and movie theaters? Still closed. Schools aren’t starting back up.
What can open?
Here’s which stores can start doing curbside pickup Friday as long as they follow social distancing rules:
- Clothing stores
- Shoe stores
- Sporting goods, hobby and musical instruments stores
- Book, periodical and music stores
- Department stores
- Tobacco and Vape shops
- Other general merchandise stores
- Office supply, stationery and gift stores
- Used merchandise stores
- Consumer goods rental stores
Jewelry stores can do business by appointment only. So can pawn shops, sporting goods and furniture stores, luggage and leather goods retailers, and music and musical instruments retailers.
Businesses allowed to conduct operations by appointment only, can have no more than two appointments per half hour. They cannot offer curbside pickup; they may either offer curbside pickup or open by appointment, according to Carney’s order.
Mall stores that don’t have an exterior-facing door can only offer curbside pickup, a rule intended to limit inside access to malls and prevent gatherings. That means employees of those interior businesses must walk products through the mall to customers who wait outside.
Want to get a haircut?
First things first: They’ll be open Friday, but you still can’t go to a salon or barber shop unless you’re an essential worker. It’s unclear when the state will open up these for everyone.
The hair care business can’t have more than two appointments at a time, with a 15-minute window between each appointment for “proper cleaning,” the governor said Tuesday. Staff and customers have to wear cloth face masks at all times, and customers have to cancel appointments if they show COVID-19 symptoms or were exposed to the virus.
Staff must wear disposable gloves, throw them away between customers and wash their hands. They have to report their temperature daily.
The entrance door has to stay locked to prevent walk-ins, and equipment must be sanitized between use. If a customer touches anything, such as a magazine, they have to take it when they leave.
Other beauty services, such as waxing, are not allowed. Stores are limited to haircare only, Carney said.
Why are there still restrictions?
The Friday openings are part of the Carney administration’s plan to reopen the state’s economy in phases. The state doesn’t want to fully reopen businesses yet because it wants to avoid a resurgence in new coronavirus cases.
The plan, based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the White House, requires more widespread testing, hundreds of personnel to help trace the spread of the virus, and a steady decline in coronavirus cases over two weeks.
Carney has consistently said without those things, the state won’t go back to the old normal.
“We’ve got a situation where we still have COVID-19 that’s present in our community,” Carney said Tuesday. “It’s not going away and we’re not out of the woods until we have a vaccine or an effective treatment.”
Because the state currently has neither — a recently-developed antiviral medication, remdesivir, has shown promise but is not widely available — Carney said restrictions are necessary. They’ll likely remain for some time, he said.
The business closures, on top of other restrictions, prompted hundreds of protesters to rally in Wilmington and Dover last week to demand for ending restrictions immediately. The protesters are planning more rallies in the coming weeks.
“I’ve heard the anguish in the small business owners voices about just the economic carnage that is visited on them and their employees,” Carney said. “But now is not time to let down (restrictions). Now is the time to lean in and run through the finish line so we can start to move to reopening the economy in Delaware.”
Send story tips or ideas to Isabel Hughes at firstname.lastname@example.org or 302-324-2785. For all things breaking news, follow her on Twitter at @izzihughes_
Sarah Gamard covers government and politics for Delaware Online/The News Journal. You can reach her at (302) 324-2281 or email@example.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @SarahGamard.