NEWINGTON – After three months of making their own fun at home, local residents are getting their freedoms back slowly but surely.
Since June 17, restaurants have been able to welcome back customers to their dining rooms and “non-essential” businesses like salons and entertainment venues could finally reopen. That’s as long as they’ve implemented a strict set of new measures and regulations, including 50 percent capacity across the board.
“We’re really excited to get back with all of our clients and support their wellness needs,” Cailin McBee said in a video the Newington Chamber of Commerce posted online.
The Chamber has been offering local business owners the ability to update their clientele in a short video, a series staff call “Chamber Check-Ups.” McBee took the opportunity to provide her clients at the Balance Massage and Wellness Center with information they need to know before coming in. The center is set to open this Saturday.
“There have been an incredible amount of changes you will see at the office,” McBee said.
Among the changes, clients will have their temperatures taken upon arrival and anything they touch or staff touch during their appointment will be sanitized before the next client’s arrival.
Personal care businesses like spas must implement a whole new service model as this pandemic continues.
Katie D’Onofrio and Heather Blair, co-owners of Del Soul Spa, are taking some extra time to get it all squared away.
“We are not opening until probably mid-July,” D’Onofrio told the Herald.
She and Blair wrote their clients a letter explaining their approach to the reopening, posted to the spa’s website.
“Although we know we aren’t going to be the same for quite some time, our hope is that waiting a little longer will give us time to properly train our staff on all new regulations, find a way to make sure we don’t strip our spa of that “experience” factor our clients expect, and ultimately we hope that with a continuing decline of COVID-19 cases, regulations will soon loosen further to allow us to offer our full menu of services done in a reasonable manner,” they said. “As soon as we feel confident in our reopening strategy all who have endured the long wait will finally get a personal invitation back into our home, and it will be a welcome and happy day for us all.”
Stay True Body Piercing posted a COVID-19 spreadsheet on its Facebook page to inform people that nose and mouth piercings will not be possible quite yet, among other rules. Visitors to the Main Street studio are welcome by appointment only at this time and will be given a plastic baggie for their mobile phone upon arrival.
“All other possessions must remain in your pocket or purse unless otherwise specified,” staff said.
At the Revolution Sports Club in the Best Market plaza, husband-and-wife-owners Rob and Deborah Maybruch have changed the layout of their 6,000 sq. ft. facility to reopen as early as this coming Monday.
“All of the equipment will be spaced 12 feet apart so when people come in they can exercise without their masks on if they choose,” Robert said. “Wearing a mask is uncomfortable while you’re exercising, particularly if you’re sweating.”
In addition to the state’s new regulations for gyms, the Maybruchs are also reopening with some of their own. Fitness classes are on hold for now, and the center’s virtual reality gaming room is temporarily closed.
“The thing we think will help the most is we’re doing gym by appointment,” Rob said. “We set up an online portal to restrict use of the facility to four people at a time. That’s 15 percent capacity for us. We’ve got room to increase, but we figured we’d play it safe to start and give people the flexibility to make an appointment at any time slot they want.”
As far as indoor dining goes, lots of Newington restaurants are on board, The Rooster Company and The Flying Monkey Bar & Grill, just to name a few.
“We are ecstatic to invite everyone back inside to dine with us,” Rooster Co. owners KC and Jaime Ward posted to the restaurant’s Facebook page. “We will be accepting reservations and offering up some extended hours!”
So residents can get back to the gym, the spa and their favorite eateries. What about good old-fashioned fun?
Montana Nights Axe Throwing reopens for business this Friday.
Owner Merle Mackenzie and his staff took their time off during the closure to upgrade the facility’s target system to a completely digital interface.
“We made a number of changes for the enjoyment of our customers,” Mackenzie said. “We’re following all of the state and CDC guidelines, plus adding a couple of our own.”
Groups will be staggered by reservation time to accommodate less than one-third of the facility’s capacity. People will also see dividers in between pits. Alcohol will still be served, but the bar seating will not be available.
“I think there’s a lot of pent up demand for this right now,” Mackenzie said. “We as human beings are used to connecting and blowing off steam. We’re looking forward to providing people an opportunity to do that safely.”
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.