Posted May 29, 2020
We are still an estimated two weeks away from “re-opening” our businesses and public spaces. Multnomah County announced plans on May 27 to apply for Phase 1 approval from the governor’s office on June 5 for a proposed re-opening date of June 12. But what will “re-opening” look like?
According to the governor’s office, Phase 1 “Includes limited re-opening of restaurants and bars, personal services, gyms, and malls.” It will also allow gatherings of up to 25 for recreational, social, cultural, civic or faith events as long as physical distancing requirements are met.
Hillsdale Farmers Market Manager Eamon Molloy says, “Phase 1 won’t change anything for us except that customers can feel more comfortable.” He doesn’t anticipate further major changes.
The market has undergone a few adjustments since the governor instituted initial restrictions on businesses and public life. First it was a contact-less drive-through limited to picking up pre-orders. When parking lot construction at Rieke eliminated through car traffic, the market became a one-way walk-through experience with limited numbers of shoppers allowed at one time. Online pre-orders have helped manage the traffic, customers’ experience, and allowed vendors to better manage their inventory.
Wait times to enter the market have been reasonable, says Molloy, generally 5-10 minutes, and down to zero later in the day. Once construction is completed at the end of June, he expects to reclaim some acreage and be able to increase the maximum capacity, reducing wait times.
Once approved for the first stage of re-opening, restaurants will be required to space all tables at least six feet apart, employees must wear masks, and establishments must close at 10pm. Requirements to place tables 6 feet apart will almost guarantee restaurant revenues will not return to pre-pandemic levels.
Sasquatch Brewing will re-open Wednesday, June 3, with a new menu geared for take-out. Owner Tom Sims has remodeled the restaurant during the closure to accommodate counter service. The change will help keep costs down, but he isn’t sure how many tables the new capacity limits will allow.
Gigi's Café has installed an air scrubber and will reduce seating capacity by 50% to accommodate six foot distancing between tables.
Dairy Hill Ice Cream is now open for advance orders and curbside pick-up, but owner Uri Kushner doesn’t plan to open his shop to allow customers in to order at the counter anytime soon. “I’d rather be the one that was too careful. Ice cream is fun, but it’s not an essential service,” he says, adding that he plans to “put science, not business, first.”
Beginning May 15, retail stores not in malls were allowed to re-open their doors for customers, provided they could adhere to physical distancing guidelines. Paloma Clothing tentatively opened its doors, allowing just a few customers in at a time, requesting that customers wear face masks, and cleaning items after they were tried on. “We have been practicing for Phase 1, figuring out how to make things safe and comfortable for staff and customers,” says co-owner Mike Roach.
Hoot-N-Annie and Gurton’s Plant Shop are sticking with online shopping for now. Hoot-N-Annie is polling Instagram followers to ask if they prefer private shopping by appointment or regular open hours with limits on numbers of customers allowed in.
Even with an all-clear from the governor, sales must be strong enough to support staffing costs. Roach has reduced operating hours at Paloma from seven days a week to just three, with a skeleton crew that is “working ten times as hard to bring in one-tenth of their former sales.”
Gyms and Salons
Salons and barber shops will be required to ask clients if they are sick or have symptoms, keep a customer log and maintain six-foot distancing between clients, and require employees and clients to wear masks.
Gyms must limit class sizes to allow for 6 feet of distancing and not allow bodily contact, contact sports, or sharing of equipment. Owners must also record client attendance.
Lara and Wally Jones of SW Portland Martial Arts and Crossfit Hillsdale have been thinking ahead to re-opening almost from the beginning. Lara says, “In the weeks leading up to the governor's formal order, we found that we were able to adjust class content to avoid contact work between students, and space bodies out across the training space to accommodate proper distancing fairly easily.” Their gym’s garage doors can be opened to allow for good ventilation. They are using the next two weeks to install no-touch fixtures and are setting up an online pre-registration system to comply with guidelines. Clients and instructors will wear masks and class formats will be adjusted: they will continue to offer classes virtually, as well as outdoors; indoor classes will be shortened to 20 minutes for kids under 7, 30 minutes for everyone else.
Libraries are high-traffic public spaces that pose unique challenges and are not yet included in re-opening plans. Officials at the library and Multnomah County report that they are working on plans to resume limited, phased library service. Four libraries could open in a few weeks with limited curbside service. During the closure, library staff has been working to expand and provide online resources service where possible. Updates and information about current services are available online.
Public Gatherings and Recreation
The Phase 1 re-opening guidelines increase the limit on public gatherings from 10 people to 25, signaling a degree of hopefulness for a summer program at the Kadish Community Stage at the Hillsdale Food Park. Tentative plans are forming for a season that may include a combination of a live performance with a limited audience, and live-streaming.
Portland Parks and Recreation has announced that swimming pools will not open this summer.
What do you think? Let us know.