Though Governor Kay Ivey’s less restrictive COVID-19 order went into effect Monday evening, several restaurants in Moulton put off reopening dining rooms one more week to prepare to open in the safest way for its guests and employees.
After about six weeks of only offering drive-thru and curbside services at two of its locations in Moulton, Stacey Cross, owner of John’s BBQ, said the restaurants would delay reopening dining rooms until the middle of next week.
“You can’t just snap your fingers and be ready to open,” Cross said Tuesday. “We all adapted to that situation and then we are told, ‘Well, you can go to half-capacity.’ It takes a little time to adapt to whatever (the governor) says we need to work with. You have crews that you need to make sure are all in line. You need to be ready to transition back to waiting tables instead of focusing on drive-thru and curbside, so it’s just a little different. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but if you want to have a smooth operation it takes a minute to get everything back to normal.”
Cross said one of the restaurant locations, located on Court Street, is undergoing a few renovations that were needed to be ready for the reopening. He said both locations would see tables moved at least six feet apart as required by the Safer at Home amended order.
“To control capacity, we’re going to cut available seating in half,” Cross added.
According to the amended order, restaurants, bars and breweries could reopen dining rooms at 50 percent of normal capacity, and social distancing guidelines must be enforced, with only up to eight customers seated at one table.
The state order also requires employees to wear masks when they interact with guests, and menus must be disposable or sanitized after each use. Self-serve stations such as salad bars and buffets are prohibited.
“I’m sure everybody is ready to get back to normal, or as close we can,” said Cross. “I don’t think it would bother me to go to a restaurant and eat at all. I know several people are not going to dare do that for a while, and I don’t blame them for that. I think it’s just up to each individual person.”
Western Sirloin also opted to hold off opening its doors to the public for at least a week. The restaurant hopes to start seating guests, also at half-capacity, by Monday, May 18, Owner Wendy Littrell said on Tuesday.
The restaurant could open a little later in the week according to how preparations and retraining staff go, she said.
“We are going to adhere to all federal and state health guidelines,” said Littrell. “We want to do this the right way with the safety of our employees as well as our customers in mind. To do that, we have to retrain all employees and re-streamline our day to day operations.”
Alabama’s Safer at Home order is expected to expire on May 22. The order also allowed close-contact services like hair salons, barbershops, nail salons and tattoo parlors to reopen after 5 p.m. on Monday.
The order requires stylists and employees to wear masks while providing services within six feet of a client. Employees are also expected to maintain strict sanitation practices, like changing gloves and cleaning chairs or stations between each client.
Ivey said additional revisions to the order may be announced this week. She said entertainment venues and theatres will remain closed until further updates are issued.
“The threat of this disease continues to be active and it is deadly,” she said in her address last Friday.
According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, over 10,000 Alabamians had tested positive for COVID-19 by Tuesday morning, and there have been 440 reported deaths.
ADPH reported 26 confirmed cases in Lawrence County as of Tuesday, but according to data from Lawrence County Coroner Scott Norwood, at least 14 of those cases have expired quarantine dates. Quarantine expirations are set for households with positive cases and are set according to a projected end of infection date or at least 14 days from a person’s infection date.
For daily updated statistics from ADPH, visit http://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/covid19/index.html.