Colorado is slowly lifting restrictions on retailers, salons and other businesses. It's part of the state's transition from Stay-at-Home to Safer-at-Home, a move that Governor Jared Polis said is meant to help the state enter a more sustainable, long-term phase of social distancing during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Under the different stages of the new order, retail businesses can open for curbside delivery. Elective medical and dental surgeries can take place. Salons can serve clients, and young children can return to daycares.
This can only happen if businesses take precautions to protect employees and customers. That means business owners face challenges like obtaining masks and protective gear, and maintaining six feet between people when possible. Despite that, some business owners welcome the chance to reopen.
As part of our series “Anything But Normal,” Aspen Public Radio reporters talked with business owners and residents around the Roaring Fork Valley about their hopes, concerns and the difficult choices they're making as they transition to the Safer-at-Home stage.
You can listen to them share their thoughts on the state’s slow reopening - in their own words - below.
Sue Sharpe, Owner of Confetti Designs in Glenwood Springs
Garfield County and many other areas in the state are allowing non-essential businesses to reopen their doors Monday, May 4.
Sue Sharpe, the owner of Confetti Design, a women’s clothing store in Glenwood Springs, said she will be open for business next week, but it was a hard decision to make. She said she wants to make sure her employees and customers are safe, but needs the business. Shoppers will be required to wear masks and social distance, and Sharpe will offer curbside pick-up and delivery if customers do not want to come into the store.
Brenda Rivera, Residential Manager
Carbondale resident Brenda Rivera and her husband have been working from home while they care for their three-year old daughter Lucy. The Riveras also live with and care for an autistic man with a history of pneumonia, which makes him particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. Lucy’s daycare has re-opened, but the Riveras can’t risk Lucy bringing home the virus, even though her day care is taking precautions like temperature checks at the door and masks for children three and older.
Amanda Wagner President of The Aspen Clinic, and Kate Lokken, Performance Center Director
When The Aspen Clinic closed due to COVID-19 in mid-March, the Basalt fitness center switched to virtual classes for members. TAC will continue to offer those online classes, but the gym welcomed back personal training clients on Monday, April 27, and returned to normal business hours on Wednesday, April 29. Reopening, however, has meant developing a new set of rules that mandate social distancing.
The overall reception from members has been positive. TAC's President Amanda Wagner says employees have embraced the new guidelines and are ready to come back to work.
Michael Leonetti, owner of Tresses Day Spa in Glenwood Springs
Michael Leonetti can’t wait to get back to work. Monday, personal services like salons can reopen in Garfield County and Leonetti will once again welcome clients to his salon Tresses Day Spa in Glenwood Springs. He says he missed his regular customers and the socializing that comes with his job. He estimates that he has lost nearly $9,000 in revenue since his salon was ordered to close last month.
Andrew Turchin, Dentist
It’s not easy to practice dentistry over the phone, but Aspen-based Dr. Andrew Turchin has had to resort to virtual consultations during the era of stay-at-home orders. Under new statewide rules that went into place on April 27, dental offices were some of the first businesses allowed to reopen, but county rules and guidance from the Colorado Dental Association aren’t as clear. Now, Turchin is planning a return to face-to-face appointments, and there will be no shortage of protective gear between him and patients.
Turchin said he’ll practice social distancing and he won’t shake hands or hug longtime patients. When patients are in the chair, there will be layers of protection between them and the dentist – a mask, a face shield, gloves and a gown. Turchin said it’ll be hard for people to see his face and expressions, which he worries might get in the way of communication.
Tito Gamboa, Manager at El Korita Mexican Restaurant in Willits
Tito Gamboa manages El Korita restaurant in Willits. His parents, Beto and Lupe Gamboa, started the business 22 years ago. El Korita has offered takeout and delivery since Colorado Gov. Jared Polis ordered all restaurants to close in-house dining in March.
As the valley slowly reopens under the Governor's new “Safer-At-Home” order, Gamboa said there’s been a spike in to-go orders. El Korita has been working hard to meet the demand, and follow local health protocols like wearing masks and gloves to keep their staff and customers safe.
Last week, the governor said a phased reopening of restaurants with reduced seating capacity could start as soon as mid-May. That’s if there isn’t a spike in COVID-19 cases during the reopening of other businesses such as retailers, gyms and daycares. Gamboa said he and his staff miss their customers and the welcoming atmosphere at El Korita, but their top priority is to keep the community safe.