DeKALB - Phase 3 is upon us, and as DeKalb County businesses, eateries, salons and other spaces prepare to invite the general public back in for the first time in months, they're laying down some ground rules to ensure public health and safety remains at the forefront of this weekend's expected activities.
What you should know before you go
The Illinois Department of Commerce released guidelines for all 10 industries expected to reopen Friday, including manufacturing, health and fitness centers, offices, personal care services, retail, outdoor recreation, service counters, day camps, youth sports, and restaurants and bars.
Cities in turn, have taken steps to ensure businesses are supported through the new protocols.
In DeKalb, City Manager Bill Nicklas said at the request of local brewery owner Steve Byers of Byers Brewing Company in downtown DeKalb, the city will allow bars to place bar tables outside the building along the sidewalk for patrons to drink beer while social distancing.
"We're going to try that," Nickals said. "Obviously everyone will have to be sensible and responsible. Sit at the table, drink the beer and leave."
In Sycamore, the city has designated two public dining areas with public hand sanitizer stations for restaurants that do not offer individual outside seating. Residents can get take-out food and then sit (no more than six to a table) in the alley at Somonauk Street between Route 64 and Joe Bussone Boulevard, and Lot 4 between the 7-Eleven and State Theatre.
Other places, such as Remington's Gastropub, 102 S. Third St. in Malta, The Lincoln Inn at Faranda's, 302 Grove St. in DeKalb, have set up their own tables outside their eateries for folks to sit at, and restaurants with outdoor seating such as Fatty's Pub & Grille, 1312 W. Lincoln Highway, already set up are raring to go, including the Tavern on Lincoln, 106 E. Lincoln Highway.
John Pappas, Tavern owner, said his restaurant didn't open during the stay-at-home order because he felt restricted service wasn't "worth out while," and jokingly called himself "a borderline germophobe." The Tavern will reopen Friday and will utilize the courtyard outside the Cornerstone DeKalb building for patrons.
"We have that beautiful courtyard in the back," Pappas said. "The nice thing about that it when it's 3 or 4 o'clock, the sun kind of goes away. Every table will be seven or eight feet apart, the staff will be wearing masks, have sanitizers outdoors and indoors, no exceptions."
He said the silverware and dining ware will be disposable, and the menus will be single-use as well.
To enter Studio One Salon & Spa, 1007 N. First St. in DeKalb, customers must have their temperature checked, wear a face mask and wash their hands. Screens have been set up at nail stations, all staff will wear masks and estheticians that do facials will wear face shields. All of the furniture has been rearranged to be at least six feet apart.
The salon and spa will reopen Monday, June 1, and will offer indoor and curbside services by appointment only. The curbside services will be under a tent in the parking lot.
"We're anxious to be open, but it's very stressful," Studio One owner Jane Levinsky said. "We want to make sure our staff as well as our clients are safe, but it's challenging. What we do as a business is touch people, their head, their face, their hands and feet."
Christopher Hickman, the owner of University City Barbershop, 817 W. Lincoln Highway, Suite D in DeKalb, has been busy sanitizing and cleaning before his shop reopens on Friday.
Many of Hickman's clients are elderly, and he said he is re-opening his barbershop "with caution and concern, making sure to properly implement all safety and health measures possible."
All of Hickman's staff will wear face masks, alternating stations will be empty and clients will be able to sit in their cars or on chairs outside to wait for their appointment.
"It's physically impossible to do our job without touching someone, which is why we're taking every safety precaution," Hickman said. "It's nice to offer a little bit of normalcy and routine and give our clients a boost of confidence and self-esteem that comes with a haircut, trim or shave."
Amanda McGinnis the owner of Mira Salon & Spa, 327 E. Hillcrest Drive in DeKalb, said that most health and safety requirements were already being practiced: sanitizing between clients, spacing and clean capes and towels. However, both the customers and stylists will now wear masks.
The salon and spa, which reopens Friday, will offer haircuts, coloring, highlights, manicures, pedicures and body treatments but will not offer facials, lip waxes, or eyelash extensions. Blow-dries will not be available the first week.
"If you look good, you feel good and your immunity is boosted," McGinnis said. "It's important to take care of yourself inside and out, to focus on the whole person, not just outer beauty. You won't die if you won't get a haircut, but when you feel less than your best, you're not at your optimum capacity."
Sweet Earth Gifts, Jewelry & Engravings, 341 W. State St. in Sycamore, will reopen Tuesday, June 2, for the first time in nine weeks. The store will be open Tuesdays through Saturdays with limited hours, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The store sells jewelry, greeting cards, food products, women’s apparel, toys, engraved décor and Sycamore souvenirs.
“We don’t know what to expect when we open after being closed for 9 weeks,” store owner Rich Para said. “We don’t know if it will be a slow return or a surge, but only 10 people are allowed in the store at a time. Shopping gives the customer experience: the interaction between customer and store employees, where you have the staff’s complete attention, they help you find what you need, answer questions and order it for you if you don’t find what you’re looking for.”
The City of Sycamore also provided plastic safety screens for all businesses which request one to provide safer interactions between customers during checkout encounters.
Daniel Watkins, the owner of Herbal Embers, 161 E. Lincoln Highway in DeKalb, said that his biggest worry is that when he reopens his doors on Friday, May 28, there will be no customers.
“The last two months have been hard because my shop is as small as it gets, with one person running the store: me,” Watkins said. “However, one of the requirements for [Paycheck Protection Program] loans is having three employees.”
Herbal Embers is a curio-apothecary and spiritual supply store, selling crystals, stones, wands, jewelry, tapestries, aromatherapy, essential oils, more than 100 herbs, loose leaf black and green teas and room freshener sprays and hand sanitizer homemade from herbs and essential oils. Tarot card readings are offered by appointment.
“We know it’s not going back to the way it was before, it’s going to be a new future,” Watkins said. “Hopefully we’ll all work together, help each other out and come out of this healthy and safe and positive.”