Close-contact businesses reopen in Upstate SC following state-mandated closures due to coronavirus
It was a quiet rainy morning in the Upstate Monday, but many customers and business owners were glad to be taking another step back toward normalcy with their hair appointments and workout routines once again.
At Swamp Rabbit Crossfit in Greenville, there had been about nine people that had come through the gym's first two sessions Monday, said Brandon Simpson, who's the head coach at the gym.
"We're taking it slow," he said. "Our aim is to make our most sensitive member feel safe and comfortable."
Close-contact businesses and recreation facilities began reopening after Governor Henry McMaster lifted an order that had mandated their closure.
These businesses – such as salons, barbershops, gyms, public swimming pools, spas and tattoo services – had been ordered to close in April due to concerns over the coronavirus. As they're permitted to reopen, they will have industry-specific safety guidelines intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19 that they'll need to follow.
Swamp Rabbit Crossfit is limiting the number of people per session to 10 right now so that people can be as spread out as possible in the nearly 5,000 square foot space, Simpson said. They normally have 15 to 20 people per group and could have technically had more than 20 in the space and still been under the governor's guidelines for number people per square foot in a business, he said.
"We didn't want to be the cause of any anxiety with crowding," he said.
Simpson said members that have come through the gym so far Monday have been "grateful" that the gym is reopened.
"People are meant to be with people," he said.
At the YMCA of Greenville's Caine Halter branch, traffic was slower than a normal Monday, but members were excited to have the option to be back in the gym again.
"I'm just glad the gym's open – I'm glad to follow whatever steps are needed," said Megan Roh, who's been a member at the YMCA location for five to six years.
Blue arrows marked the floor in the facility guiding members and staff where to go through the hallways to help with social distancing. All people entering the building also had to have their temperatures scanned as they came in.
There's been a "learning curve" with the new protocols but no real issues so far Monday morning, said Brian Vest, district executive director over the Caine Halter and Verdae branches of the YMCA of Greenville.
About 15 people worked out at 5 a.m. when the gym opened, Vest said. There were about 10 people in the gym at about 9:30 a.m., which was a light crowd, he said, as normally most of the machines are full around that time.
Jeff Pence, owner of Magic Rooster Tattoo in Mauldin, was also glad to be open again after 7 weeks of not doing tattoos. He's booked solid for about a month with appointments now.
"People are excited to get back to it," he said.
And on Pelzer, Betty Jordan was glad to be getting back to work at her hair salon, Betty Boops. She'd cut nine people's hair by about 10:30 a.m. Monday and said it had been going great so far.
Jordan said she has a full appointment book for the week and is even working an extra day to keep up with the demand.
"I'm just hoping it will continue," she said.
It had been terrible having to be closed for so long, she said.
"I've never been told you couldn't work – I've always been told to work," Jordan said.
One of her customers in the salon Monday was Charles Cooley, of Pelzer, who said he felt comfortable coming in to get his hair cut.
"It needed it," he said of his hair.
Theresa Mattress was also glad to be able to go back to the hair salon Monday, taking a noon appointment at Snaz-Z Hair Salon in Anderson. Mattress said she hadn't gotten it done in months, when she normally gets her hair done every two weeks.
"I was excited, I could not wait to get something done," she said.
The day got started there early for Snaz-Z owner Louise Fant – she had her first appointment at 1:30 a.m. and won't be wrapping up until after 7 p.m., she said. She normally works 14 to 16 hour days so she's used to a long day, just not 18 hours, she said.
But Fant's taking it in stride as her customers flock back for long-awaited hair appointments – she has another early morning one booked for Tuesday at 3 a.m. She's fully booked for the next two weeks and acknowledged that she'd be sacrificing some sleep in order to keep up with the high demand.
"That's me, that's my heart," she said.
The reopening had gone well so far Monday, Fant said. They were taking coronavirus very seriously at the salon, having staggered appointment times and having all clients where a mask, answer a series of coronavirus-related questions when they check in and have their temperature checked. Coronavirus-related information was also posted all throughout the business.
"We want to make sure that our customers are safe," Fant said. "We want everyone to feel safe."