PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md. — Businesses continued on a slow path of returning to regular operations as Phase 2 fully began on Monday in Prince George's County.
Gyms, retail stores, churches and childcare facilities were some of the facilities that could operate with up to 50% capacity after being closed for the last three months.
Red Octopus Tattoos, located in Morningside, opened its doors to customers around 5 p.m., following specific guidelines for each appointment.
Staff wiped down chairs after each tattoo session while everyone inside wore personal protective masks.
"As far as a good tattoo shop, this isn’t that out of the norm for us," manager Steve Clark said. "Most of the COVID-19 precautions we were doing prior to COVID-19. It’s just our standard procedure.”
Due to the number of appointments and indoor capacity limits, some customers chose to wait outside near the front door as others sat in their cars nearby.
For Clark, having the customers back served as a sign of big progress.
"We’ve been off for three straight months and kind of in limbo," he said. "It was a bit of a panic not knowing if we will be able to open up. It’s been scary.”
Many of the customers who came in on Monday had previously booked appointments, but saw them canceled as a result of the spread of coronavirus.
With more walk-in customers possibly coming in over the next few days and weeks, Clark said that the reopening guidelines and limitations would likely impact wait times.
"It’s a challenge for us just trying to fit customers in at a convenient time," he said. "For a customer standpoint, the wait is going to be much much longer.”
As other businesses navigate through similar challenges, the Prince George's County Chamber of Commerce said recovery would take plenty of time.
"There’s still going to be a lack of revenue," Chamber President David Harrington said in early June. "Even when you’re opening at 50%, there’s not a high comfort level of going to retail.”
According to Harrington, the return to pre-pandemic business numbers could take up to 12 months.
"This tremor has caused an earthquake when it comes to business," he said. "Until we get a vaccine or something that says all clear then that’s when you’ll see some sense of recovery.”
Moving forward, Clark hoped recovery would keep going smoothly.
"So far everybody has been just absolutely pleasant and understanding," he said. "I’m happy to see all our customers again and just keep a good clean environment.”