Coronavirus Indiana: Eating places will reopen at half capability throughout a lot of the state on Monday. Lake County enters Part 2 of Governor Eric Holcomb’s reopening plan
PORTAGE, Ind. (WLS) – Lake County, Indiana, entered the second phase of Governor Eric Holcomb’s reopening plan on Monday.
In much of the state, restaurants can reopen to 50 percent capacity, and personal services such as salons and barber shops can reopen their doors. This is not the case in Lake County due to the higher concentration of COVID-19 cases.
Personal services companies can now reopen in most states with certain restrictions. In places like barber shops, new rules apply to employees and also to customers who have to make appointments.
“You can’t wait in the store, you have to wait in the car,” said Thomas. “I have to wear a mask. I have to change gloves for every customer.”
Much of Indiana can also begin reopening half capacity restaurants.
Radius, a Porter County restaurant, closed in March. Almost two months later, owner Chris Pavlou was delighted to see his customers eating again.
“Today was great. We have a lot of regulars who are excited to be here,” he said. “We prepared the place for social distancing. We have our masks and the staff wear them and we are very hygienic.”
Customers don’t have to wear a mask if they don’t want to, Pavlou said.
On Monday evening Pavlov said people were already making reservations again.
“We feel a little cooped up,” said Nathan Walker, a customer on Monday night. “We have starters, soup and we ate as if we hadn’t eaten in seven weeks.”
The Rosewood Family Restaurant in Portage had to close completely for two months.
“We’re just glad to be back,” said Maggie Karakozis, owner of the family restaurant Rosewood. “I want to say hello to everyone back and I hope we come back. I know it’s a new normal, but kind of a new normal.”
The restaurant is now wiping the menus, keeping the diners as far apart as possible. Regular customers came back for breakfast Monday morning.
“Well, I’m tired of cooking and this is one of my favorite restaurants in Portage. I’ve been trying to support the local businesses since I’ve lived in town and for 44 years,” said client William Tharp.
The majority of Indiana entered phase 2 last month. However, three counties, Lake, Marion, and Cass, did not do so at this point.
In phase 2, retail and commercial operations can be reopened with a capacity of 50 percent. Joshua Halpern’s two Lake County jewelry stores have been closed since March.
“It was as bad as you can imagine,” said Halpern. “I had to lay off 90 percent of my employees and take leave of absence.”
Halpern and his staff prepared the stores to prepare for the customers, install plexiglass, bring out masks, gloves and disinfectants.
“I don’t think anyone realizes how much this will add to people’s budgets this year,” Halpern said.
The Lake County restaurant and bars serving food will be 50% open as part of Phase Two on May 18.
“We as owners can also make our own decisions,” said Raymundo Garcia, the real owner of El Taco. “I’ll probably wait another week after that.”
The Mayor of Portage hopes the cases in her community do not increase.
“I don’t think anyone wants to go backwards, so everyone is walking forward as carefully as possible so we don’t take 10 steps backwards,” said Sue Lynch, Portage Mayor.
With many restrictions still in place in Illinois, elected officials and business owners in northwest Indiana are hoping this won’t encourage the virus to spread here.
“We have a lot of people coming across the state line, and with Illinois still closed, I’m a little worried that people might come here more since we opened,” said Maravilla.
The governor has said he hopes Indiana will fully reopen by July 4th.
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