April 24, 2020
Georgia: On Our Mind
In opposition to guidelines set forth by the White House, as well as recommendations from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), Governor Brian Kemp has lifted closure restrictions on establishments such as gyms, salons, bowling alleys, and tattoo parlors. Although permitted, not all businesses will take advantage of the relaxed restrictions. Some business owners have chosen to continue to honor the guidelines set forth by the White House. These include not beginning to reopen until downward trajectories have been established for people showing symptoms, and for documented cases of COVID-19. Also included in the criteria, having a “robust testing program” in place.
Businesses that are taking advantage of the Governor’s decision will be ramping up their safety protocols. With multiple locations in Georgia, Gold’s Gym is taking advantage of the change offered by the Gov. Kemp. CEO Adam Zeitsiff has a plan in place to reopen as safely as possible. The first of three phases of Zeitsiff’s plan is to initially offer only cardio and strength training. This will allow easy enforcement of distancing as alternate machines (or more) can be blocked off to ensure people are not working out in close proximity. The number of patrons allowed at any given time will also be limited. Cleaning policies will be more comprehensive and regulated than they were before the pandemic.
For Gold’s, the next stage will begin to reincorporate group classes, though at reduced capacity, of no more than 50%. At some point in the future, the company would like to be able to fully reopen, but the CEO seems to realize that a return to what was is not guaranteed.
Hairdressers, nail salons, and barbershops are also allowed to reopen in Georgia. It is recommended by the Georgia State Board of Cosmetologists and Barbers’ that a number of guidelines be followed by shops that choose to reopen. Those include full disinfection of an establishment before reopening, limiting the number of clientele present at any given time, and clean capes for each client, which one hopes was always the case. PPE such as masks and gloves are recommended as well as the salon specific gear. The board also recommends asking clients about their state of health, specifically focusing on cough, fever, and exposure.
While salon chairs can easily be placed six feet or more apart, it is impossible to maintain such distance while giving a haircut. Essentially, both parties will need to be as covered as possible throughout the entire process. Because of the up close and personal nature of the salon experience, some barbers and cosmetologists are choosing to continue sitting it out.
Those who do make appointments should consider bringing their own reading material as guidelines also state that unnecessary items such as magazines should be removed. As with gyms, frequent and thorough sanitizing is crucial. Clients can do their part by taking only what they need to complete their appointment, and being honest with your hairdresser or barber about your health and potential exposure.
Other businesses that are eligible to reopen are massage parlors and bowling alleys. Bowling alleys seem to be the safest option as far as social distancing. If only every third lane is rented out, there will be well over the requisite six feet between games. Bowling alleys will need to disinfect balls between patrons, something that was not done prior to COVID-19. As has always been the case, it is a great idea to get your own bowling shoes.
Calhoun Bowling Center in Calhoun, Georgia has reopened as of today. They will be enforcing appointments for bowling, and allowing no more than four bowlers per lane. While the bowling center does have a snack bar, it will remain closed until restaurants are allowed to go back to full service. They are, of course, asking that anyone who is sick not patronize their establishment.
The eyes of the country are peeled, waiting to see how the next few weeks go for Georgia citizens. It is to be hoped that all goes well. However, whether well or ill, whatever happens next in Georgia will help inform the futures of the rest of us.