Most Idaho businesses can reopen today, but some Moscow restaurants like Maialina Pizzeria Napoletana, Sangria Grille and La Casa Lopez will remain closed to indoor dining.
Republican Gov. Brad Little announced Thursday that the state will move to Stage 2 of his four-stage economic reopening plan today.
As long as businesses follow safety and sanitation protocols, establishments including restaurant dining rooms, indoor gyms, barbershops and hair salons can reopen.
Latah County has five confirmed COVID-19 cases and one probable case as of Friday, according to the Public Health - Idaho North Central District.
George Skandalos, co-owner of Maialina Pizzeria Napoletana and Sangria Grille, said he will open his two restaurants in a couple weeks so he has more time to evaluate local and national coronavirus trends and to find and train employees.
He said many University of Idaho students returned home after classes shifted to online, so he lost some of his workforce.
“We just want to proceed with caution,” Skandalos said.
He said his restaurants will continue to offer takeout and delivery services.
La Casa Lopez posted on its Facebook page Tuesday that it will continue to only offer curbside carryout until all phases of reopening have proceeded.
The fourth and final stage is scheduled to run June 13-26 if there are no significant increases in cases and criteria remain met, according to the Idaho Rebounds website.
“We want to continue to serve our community by only offering take out and will re-open our dining area until we are allowed to at full capacity or until further notice,” the La Casa Lopez post stated.
Other restaurants, like Tapped, will open today for the first time in several weeks for dine-in services.
“While we got creative and found ways to continue to serve the community with carryout and delivery, I think there’s a large majority of the community that is ready to re-engage socially and we want to take care of them,” said Tyler Antkowiak, Tapped general manager and co-owner.
Restaurant dining rooms can only open once their plans have been submitted for approval by local public health districts, according to the Idaho Rebounds website. For Moscow and other Latah County businesses, the Public Health - Idaho North Central District must provide the go-ahead to open their doors.
Antkowiak said employees will wear masks and gloves; the restaurant removed about half of its seating to limit customers and maintain social distancing; and it removed chairs from the middle of the communal tables to spread people out into two tables.
He said he has no idea how busy his restaurant will be today, but that “most of the people that I’ve spoken to are cautiously excited to get back out.”
Kim Johnson, co-owner of Anytime Fitness, said her gym will reopen today.
“We’re excited,” Johnson said. “Like I said, we’re just going to do our best to stay safe, have our members stay safe and we’re open for those that are ready to get back to the gym.”
She said she needs to reopen for financial reasons too.
To keep staff and members safe, Johnson said some machines will be taken out of service and some chairs in the lounge area will be removed to maintain social distancing; members will be asked to wash their hands as they enter and leave the gym; and workout classes will be virtual or postponed if 6-foot social distancing cannot be maintained.
Many businesses have been up and running since May 1, or Idaho’s Stage 1.
BookPeople of Moscow could have opened at the start of the month but Carol Price, owner and manager, said the bookstore has remained closed primarily because the store is a bit of a mess from filling lots of book orders and she is finishing up restoration projects she took advantage of while the store is closed.
She said she also wanted to make sure her staff is comfortable working with the public when the store reopens and she needed time to figure out what safety protocols she wanted to put in place.
Price said she plans to reopen May 26. The store will continue to provide curbside pickup, deliveries in Moscow and Pullman and shipments.“My customers are wonderful and they really appreciate the curbside and the delivery,” Price said. “They’re happy that we’re not rushing to let people in (the store), but it’ll be great to have customers back.”
Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.