CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Starting Friday at 5 p.m., North Carolina will enter Phase 2 of Governor Roy Cooper's COVID-19 reopening procedure.
Restaurants, barbershops, salons and pools can all reopen with limited capacity and some safety measures in place. Gyms, fitness studios, bars, nightclubs, movie theaters and museums must stay closed.
Several gyms and fitness studios across the Charlotte area were under the impression they’d be able to open in Phase 2, leaving many disappointed to learn Cooper decided to be more modest than originally planned.
Mimosa’s Nail Bar in NoDa will reopen as soon as Phase 2 begins. Customers will have to complete a wellness survey beforehand, wear a mask and have their temperature taken before getting a manicure or pedicure.
“We’re excited. We've been looking forward to this day but at the same time we're a little intimidated because there's a lot to do,” said Don Do, the owner.
Employees have undergone coronavirus-specific training and will wear face shields and gloves.
It's a hands-on service so they've put in plexiglass barriers and customers will be spread out around the salon. Co-owner Trang Tran is a dentist, they've used that knowledge to step up their cleaning practices.
“We’re taking it up a notch. This is hospital grade, and with UVC lighting so we'll go through and sterilize using UVC light which is proven to kill 99% of all funguses, germs, viruses,” says Do.
They've put their life savings into opening this salon and need to reopen but know it won't be worth it unless health, safety and protection is a top priority.
Meanwhile, just down the street, a small pilates studio was all set to reopen with new guidelines in place.
“You’ve always been six feet away from the coach and your neighbor at all times, we're asking that you stay outside five minutes prior to class, we'll be filing in all six feet apart, not lingering in the hallways after class,” said Kate Colston, the owner of CORE704.
All of the coaches will be wearing face shields and gloves and they won’t do any hands-on adjustments.
But all of those plans are now put on hold. Cooper's announcement surprised gyms and fitness studios across the state, unlike what he originally said would happen.
The owners of CORE704 don't understand why they can't reopen if people can gather in groups of 10.
“Our max class is 10 or less. I think with all of our safety and cleaning protocols, all the measures we've taken, it’s no different than going and sitting in a barbershop,” said Chase Colston.
Several other gyms and fitness studios have voiced the same concerns.
Dr. Mandy Cohen says all indoor activities come with a higher risk of spreading coronavirus.
“As you work out you obviously breathe more heavily and intensely. This is a viral respiratory pathogen, so it’s something that is expelled through your droplets,” Cohen said.
But as the light at the end of the tunnel gets further away for gyms, staying afloat only becomes more difficult. CORE704 has locations in NoDa and South End. They haven’t had a steady cash flow in two-and-a-half months but still have to pay rent.
Phase 2 of Cooper's plan will last at least five weeks.