Greene Countians were able to again dine out, go shopping or work out at a gym starting last week, as were residents in most counties across Tennessee.
And this week, they can add getting a long-overdue haircut to that list.
However, as the state economy takes its first, measured steps toward reopening following its coronavirus-forced hibernation, all of those activities will look different than they did a just a couple of months ago. These new conditions are something we’ll all need to get used to — for the time being, at least — and something we should all make an effort to adapt to in order to keep our economy open and gaining strength.
The alternative, according to health care experts, is another spike in coronavirus cases and the potential for another shutdown.
Gov. Bill Lee issued his “safer at home” executive order on March 30, urging, but not requiring residents to stay at home as much as possible to help stem the spread of the COVID-19 virus which, as of Monday, had claimed the live of more than 68,000 Americans, including 219 Tennessee residents. While the order didn’t mandate that people stay in their homes, it did require businesses and services not deemed essential to close their doors to the public. Those included restaurant dining rooms, retail stores and barber shops.
That order ended April 30, and some businesses were allowed to reopen before that date. Restaurants and retail stores can have patrons inside but not at more than 50% of capacity. Fitness centers are operating again under similar guidelines, and “close-contact” businesses such as salons and barber shops can reopen as early as Wednesday with guidelines from the state to follow, as well.
Among the state’s requests are that businesses enforce social distancing and ensure their shops remain as germ-free as possible. And they’re doing that. For example, Angela Hixon, owner of Hix BBQ on East Andrew Johnson Highway, told reporter Cicely Babb her staff wipes door handles at least every 30 minutes, sanitizes menus between customers and sanitizes customers’ debit and credit cards before returning them, among other measures. Additionally, the staff there have their temperatures checked before starting work and wear masks while working.
Many local residents have been eager to patronize these businesses and help get the economy going again, and that’s not a bad thing. The effects of the coronavirus have been devastating with 30 million Americans, including 435,000 in Tennessee, filing claims for unemployment benefits since mid-March. Let’s be mindful, though, that we don’t contribute to a reversal of the progress that has been made.
Help businesses by recognizing the guidelines they’ve been given and following them, too. Go further by wearing a face covering and keeping a distance when shopping to show your fellow store patrons you care. When working out, if you’re asked to wipe down equipment after your use, do it.
We’re getting back on our feet, Greene County. Let’s make sure we stay there.