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Back to business: Sense of normalcy returns as services, dining options expand

On Saturday morning people across the city began getting haircuts, dining at restaurants and shopping at stores as a sense of normalcy started to return after a virus triggered a pandemic that shut down businesses statewide for about two months.

Tom Oravec, owner of Rockhouse Barbershop and Shave Parlor, said he is excited to be able to do what he loves as well as talking to his customers about how life has been going for them during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To reopen under Phase One, Oravec had to change his usual walk-in policy and is now taking appointments to limit the number of people in his shop at one time. Saturday, May 9, was his first day back and he has been completely booked since then.

“We are ecstatic we are able to go back to work,” said Sherrill Graff, owner of Creative Hair & Nails on Nevada Way, on Friday, May 8, as she prepared to open the salon Saturday, May 9. “I hope I can sleep tonight. I’m so excited I’m like a little kid at Christmas.”

She said the setup of the salon, with 8-by-8-foot spaces separated by walls, and spacing of their pedicure chairs allows them to operate with safe distances between customers.

Darren Mancusi, owner of Treasure Finds, said he was “absolutely” excited to be able to reopen his store. In addition to social distancing and face masks, he said he has hand sanitizer at the door.

“We are asking everyone … to sanitize their hands when they come in so that their hands are clean when they touch things,” he said.

“It’s been wonderful to be back,” said Diana Tennyson, a vendor at Goatfeathers Emporium.

Tennyson runs two booths and said she is excited to be able to see her clients and customers again.

“They’ve missed us as much as we’ve missed them,” she said.

“We’re very excited to be open again,” added Goatfeathers employee Pam Tope. “We’ve had people in all morning.”

Lack of notice

While many were glad to get back to business, some owners have mixed emotions about how Nevada’s recovery plan was implemented by Gov. Steve Sisolak.

Goatfeathers owner Gary Allen said he was “very excited” to reopen but wasn’t happy with the amount of time given by Sisolak.

Sisolak made the announcement May 7 that businesses could reopen two days later. He originally said businesses would most likely be able to open May 15.

“It’s just not fair what the governor did. … He didn’t give nobody enough time,” Allen said.

Jill Bunch, owner of Chilly Jilly’z, said the lack of time to properly prepare for opening her dining areas posed some challenges sourcing food, but she was able to offer a limited menu.

“There was no time to order supplies and there has been increased cost in food supplies,” she said.

Bunch said she expects “some hiccups along the way,” and some were not happy that their parties were limited to five people, but her customers have been very patient, which was greatly appreciated.

Cindy Ford, owner of Southwest Diner, she hadn’t expected the closure to end early and wasn’t able to open this week.

She said they are in the process of having the kitchen retiled and she hopes to reopen soon.

Appreciation abounds

Sunday morning, every table at The Patio at Chilly Jilly’z was filled and people were waiting on the sidewalk to dine at the restaurant.

“We are happy to be here,” Bunch said. “We are blessed to have large tables and open seating.”

To comply with Phase One restrictions, all of the staff was wearing masks and disposable gloves, and meals were served on disposable dishes with disposable cutlery. Additionally, the menus were printed on paper for one-time use and the tables and chairs were sanitized in between customers.

“We didn’t mind the disposable serve ware; the food was as delicious as always. We were just happy to visit The Patio at Chilly Jilly’z where we have created so many great family memories,” said Kathleen Smith. “Chilly Jilly’z went above and beyond to make our Mother’s Day special serving chilled chocolate-covered strawberries at the end of our meal.”

Smith said she was happy to be able to support one of Boulder City’s small businesses.

“Our family cares about the products and services these small businesses in Boulder City provide for our community. We have tremendous respect for the owners and employees for their extra work to modify operations in order to meet the many public safety guidelines defined by the governor’s Phase One reopening orders,” she said.

Restrictions in place

To comply with Phase One restrictions, Graff removed all chairs from the waiting area. Customers also need to make an appointment and will be asked to wear a mask. She said she also would prefer that they pay by credit card or put their payments in an envelope to help limit contact between the customer and their stylist.

Graff added that because those who rent stations at the salon share spaces, they are working with each other to alternate days on site.

“Each girl makes her own schedule with their own clientele,” she said.

The salon also is allocating between 7-9 a.m. for clients who have immune deficiencies, Graff said.

Joe DeSimone, owner of Railroad Pass Casino, said the travel center and truck stop remains open so they can “maintain employment of as many team members as possible,” while serving travelers.

The hotel, gaming and food and beverage operations remain closed as they comply with restrictions imposed by Sisolak, but a notice on the casino’s website indicates they plan to reopen hotel operations Memorial Day weekend.

Checklists available

According to the city, Phase One will be in place for two to three weeks. Staff is working with regional agencies to create a reopening checklist for local businesses.

“The community development department and business licensing staff are dedicated to safely reopening businesses per Southern Nevada Health District … and CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) safety measures,” said City Manager Al Noyola. “Prevention of new infections is going to be critical in the coming weeks. The checklists should help business owners, employees and customers.”

Even though restrictions are lessening, people should still work to reduce the spread of COVID-19, according to city leadership.

“There will be requirements businesses must comply with but it is another step in reopening. … I encourage our residents to continue with social distancing and good hygiene so the great efforts that we have been making for the past several weeks are not wasted,” said Mayor Kiernan McManus. “Boulder City has avoided the worst of this emergency. Our continued efforts will allow us to continue moving forward.”

Additionally, all special events are closed in city parks and facilities through May 30, unless the governor alters or extends his directive. The city’s parks and park bathrooms will remain open daily.

Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at hsaylor@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.

Contact reporter Celia Shortt Goodyear at cgoodyear@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow her on Twitter @csgoodyear.

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