Nassau was set to begin Phase 3 of the state’s reopening protocols on Wednesday.
Restaurants will be permitted to open for inside dining at 50 percent capacity, provided that employees and patrons wear masks, and that tables be spaced six feet apart and seat no more than 10 people.
Spas will also be allowed to reopen at 50 percent capacity, with safety protocols. Waiting rooms will be closed.
Gold Coast Business Association President Steve Warshaw said that safety was paramount as Phase 3 starts up. He said he trusted the guidelines put in place by the state, although it could be over a year until New York sees a complete recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think people are still a little leery of being indoors,” Warshaw said, “but some people will go in, and that’s fine. As long as the restaurants do it according to the state guidelines, it should be fine.”
“People need to remain vigilant as it regards the safety protocols,” he added. “It’s not over, and it won’t be over for a long time.”
Dan Roth, co-owner of Still Partners, in Sea Cliff, said he was eager to begin serving customers inside once again. He said that tables would be spread out, and since live music is not yet permitted, some tables would be moved onto the stage to take advantage of the extra room.
Still Partners also has several booths lining one wall, and Roth said that customers would be seated at every other booth. Additionally, customers at the bar will sit at least six feet apart.
Sanitizing has always been a priority, he said, but staff will now take extra precautions. There will be hand sanitizer stations throughout the restaurant, and employees will take extra care when cleaning tables and the bar.
The past three months have been “pretty miserable,” Roth said. Since Still Partners has been limited to takeout business during the lockdown, the enjoyment of interacting with customers was gone. But the Village of Sea Cliff allowed a few restaurants, including Still Partners, to set up tables on Sea Cliff Avenue on Fridays and Saturdays starting June 12. This, Roth said, helped reignite his passion.
“Joy in your work is definitely a factor,” he said. “When we opened on the street, it reminded me of why I enjoy doing this job, as hard as it is.”
The initial opening of street dining was a two-week test run, and Mayor Edward Lieberman said it was so successful that the village decided to extend it until July 6.
Nonetheless, Roth said, it could be difficult for businesses like his to fully recover. Two bad weeks in the bar business, he said, can take three good weeks to erase, making three months of losses particularly difficult to come back from. But the start of Phase 3 start has sparked some optimism. “It means, hopefully, the road to recovery for a once fairly thriving business,” Roth said.
Yajhayra Reyes, owner of the Glen Cove Salt Cave, said she was thrilled to be opening her spa again. “[It’s] super-exciting,” she said. “We’ve been waiting forever to be able to reopen, and we’re just excited to be able to open our doors and have our customers come back to get all the benefits of salt therapy.”
The group salt therapy room, Reyes explained, will now hold four people instead of its normal eight, although private rooms will still hold two, and chairs will be thoroughly cleaned between each use. Additionally, she said, the Salt Cave installed an anti-viral, ultraviolet light-filtration system long before the pandemic, and it provides protection against the virus.
Tattoo parlors, including Twin Moons Creations, in Glen Head, are also reopening. Employee Carolyn Braband said the business has definitely taken a hit by being closed for three months, but she said she expected appointments to rapidly pile up. She added that clients had reached out to her with ideas during the closure, and the chance to really think about what they want in a tattoo was a positive side effect.
Twin Moons, Braband said, will only accept appointments; walk-ins are no longer permitted. Employees and clients must wear masks at all times, and employees will undergo health screenings and daily temperature checks.
“We’re in an industry that we’ve always had to be cautious of our health to begin with,” Braband said. “We’ve always viewed tattooing like a doctor’s office — it’s a medical procedure, at the end of the day. So, we’re just going to keep on top of those sanitation and cleaning guidelines, and we’ve added what the Department of Health has given us as well.”
Jennifer Corr contributed to this story.