A different look for local businesses

FROM STAFF REPORTS / Editorial 

Is it the right time to reopen? Only time will tell. But with Gov. Kay Ivey’s announcement on Friday, May 8, that businesses would be allowed to open the following Monday, May 11, several followed suit and opened their doors.

That came two days short of the two-month mark in Alabama’s battle against COVID-19. Some say it’s too soon and others say it’s long overdue. But nobody knows the true answer.

Reopening the economy is a major experiment, not only to see if the virus will start to grow at a rapid rate again, but to see if people can follow the proper precautions.

For restaurants, the new guidelines for opening to in-person dining means tables have to be at least 6 feet apart, masks must be worn by employees, strict sanitation rules must be followed and no guests should be gathered in waiting areas.

It’s something far from normal, but it’s a start to salvaging the economy both in Shelby County, Alabama and the country.

Similar protocols are in place for close-contact services such as salons, barbershops and tattoo parlors.

They’re all having to practice safe social distancing measures, wear masks, keep guests from gathering and sanitize equipment and their facility regularly.

The question becomes will businesses follow these guidelines and will those visiting these businesses follow the proper precautions or go back to their normal ways.

This also applies to retail stores, which opened the week before at 50 percent capacity with similar guidelines in place.

While numbers over the second month of the virus have been less drastic as far as confirmed cases go despite more testing being done, this becomes the biggest test thus far.

If we can’t follow these new guidelines and handle the reopening of the economy responsibly, we will go right back down the dangerous path of seeing an increase of numbers and possibly back to quarantine.

But, the majority of Alabama did their part when it came to staying at home, and Shelby County did a remarkable job of limiting cases after being one of the top two counties with cases early on.

Since then, the people of the county have done their part and the number of new confirmed cases has gone drastically over the last month—around an average of five per day over the last month rather than double digits.

If we can handle this new normal responsibly for the next month, we may even be able to take the next step back to what our usual definition of normal is.

It’s nice to see people out and about again, employees having a source of income again and people getting back to a normal mental state with these changes. Now, let’s keep it going. Let’s keep Shelby strong.