PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md. — Ahead of Phase 2 reopenings on Monday, store owners have been preparing their businesses to welcome back customers in a clean environment.
County leaders said the decision to move forward is due to the improvement of metrics and data in the county. Rates of death continue to drop, coronavirus positivity cases made a 27% drop since last week, and there is a steady decrease in hospitalizations, leaders said.
Here's what phase two of reopening looks like starting June 15:
- Retail stores: In-store service is available with a 50% capacity and a safeguard of only five people per 100 square feet.
- Barbershops and hair salons: Are open with a 50% capacity and use of PPE. This includes face masks and gloves for all employees.
- Customers must also wear masks, and shops must have appropriate floor markings to create adequate social distancing.
- All CDC guidelines for cleaning high use surfaces must also be followed.
- Nail salons and spas: Can reopen with a safeguard of one customer per 200 square feet. Social distancing must be followed and the use of PPE.
- Restaurants: Indoor and outside seating is permitted at a 50% capacity. No more than six people can be at a table and no more than 50 people can be inside the restaurant regardless of space.
- Employees must receive health screenings prior to their shifts, and all CDC guidelines must be adhered to. Additionally, all employees must wear face coverings, and restaurants must have hand sanitizer and appropriate hand washing facilities available.
- House of worship: Can open for gatherings of 25% capacity or less with social distancing. Otherwise, they must maintain online services only.
- Childcare services: Open to essential employees and those returning to work.
- Youth sports: Can resume, but must be nine children to one coach in an outside setting.
- Outdoor pools: Can operate and open at 25 percent capacity or less with social distancing. No indoor pools will be open.
- Gyms and fitness centers: Remain closed.
- Parks: Open to fitness, fitness classes, and low impact sports.
- Government workers: A limited number of employees can return to work. Officials still encourage employees to telework.
According to county guidelines, Phase 2 will allow for retail businesses to open for in-store services with limitations. Five people per 1,000 square feet will be allowed inside while capacity will be capped at 50%.
On Sunday, Prestige Concepts Boutique owner Kymberly Knighton prepared her store for the big week ahead.
A crew steamed clothing on the racks while also cleaning the floor and countertops.
Knighton told WUSA that Phase 2 helped offer some hope and excitement after a tough last few months.
"Business definitely took a big hit. All of our large contracts got canceled," she said. "You can imagine the amount of money that we’ve lost by having our doors closed. We’re just ready to get back to business.”
After first starting her business eight years ago, Knighton was forced to clear out the store when the pandemic spread to the DMV.
Now, with her designer clothing back on the shelves and mannequins once again sporting some of her fashion, Knighton said the reopening would bring much-needed progress.
"We want our customers to feel comfortable and be able to come here knowing we did our due diligence to clean," she said.
Phase Two will also bring reopenings of barber shops, salons, outdoor community pools and local parks.
Despite the changes, the Prince George's County Chamber of Commerce said recovery would still take plenty of time.
"There’s still going to be a lack of revenue," said Chamber President David Harrington. "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, Kymberly Knighton said she was ready to once again help customers find fashionable clothes and look good.
"I’m pumped," she said. "After being closed for three months, being able to go full throttle means the world.”
For more information on Phase 2 of reopening in Prince George's County, check here.
Alsobrooks encourages anyone who attended the protests to get tested for the coronavirus. You can call the Prince George's County coronavirus hotline to set up an appointment at 301-883-6627. Residents are asked to continue social distancing, even in the midst of reopenings.