by Dennis Dalman
Spring has sprung, summer is just around the bend, and many St. Joseph residents who are finally able to go to local businesses are mighty happy about de-isolating in the nice weather.
Those are the many people tired of being cooped-up or otherwise isolated due to the ongoing virus pandemic, which started a deadly infection swath across the United States, starting this past March.
St. Joseph restaurants/bars opened June 1 for limited outdoor dining restrictions and June 10 for limited indoor dining, as well. In addition, June 10 was the re-opening date, with limitations, for many other businesses such as churches, hair and nail salons, movie theaters, bowling alleys and more.
The St. Joseph City Council, like other area city councils, recently approved an interim ordinance allowing outdoor tables to be placed on fenced-in areas of sidewalks and onto parking lots. The businesses obtained permits from the cities after submitting their safety plans for re-opening.
The rules for outdoor dining are that tables must be 6 feet apart, no more than four people per table unless they are all family members, staff are required to wear face masks, reservations must be made and no more than 50 people can be seated at one time.
As of June 10, businesses continued to re-open with the mandated safety measures as spelled out in the governor’s Phase III re-opening plans.
Those businesses include – again – bars and restaurants that may now offer indoor dining but only at 50 percent capacity of their maximum allowable seating as allowed under a particular establishment’s fire-safety capacity. Outdoor seating can also be extended to a maximum of 250 people.
Other businesses that received a green light on June 10 are churches, hair salons, nail salons, barber shops, swimming pools, some sporting, movie theaters, bowling alleys, gymnasiums, outdoor gatherings and some indoor gatherings.
Safety restrictions apply to all of them. Churches, for example, can accommodate up to 50 percent of the former number of worshippers.
Outdoor gatherings allow for up to 25 people at once, and indoor gatherings (such as parties) are advised to host only 10 people or fewer at a time.
Salons (hair, nails and more) can increase their customer numbers from 25 percent to 50 percent as of June 10.
Sports that don’t involve body contact, such as tennis or shuffleboard, are now allowed, but the body-contact sports are still not allowed to host games.
Gym areas are allowed a 25- percent customer capacity.
Bowling alleys and movie theaters can also have up to a 25-percent customer capacity.
Outdoor concerts can be held for up to 250 people with social distancing of six feet.
In all of those activities and gatherings, social distancing must be adhered to, and the wearing of masks is strongly recommended by the governor’s re-opening safety plan.