Phase 2 of state reopening leaves some business owners ambivalent

The next step in the state’s reopening plan went into effect on Friday. The second phase expanded the list of businesses allowed to reopen in a limited capacity to include bars, gyms and theaters.

The state’s daily count of new COVID-19 cases remains low – for more than three weeks, the average has hovered around two new cases each day. Still, officials warn that while the virus might not be spreading as quickly as it was in March and early April, the risk of transmission is still present.

“We’re going to get cases here and people will get sick,” Gov. Mike Dunleavy said in a press conference on Friday. “But it is also important that we start to restore balance back into our life.”

Despite the go-ahead, the limitations on reopening and subsequent risk to the community have led some Kodiak business owners to hold off.

“We are able to open, but I’m not… I’m not really ready to pull the trigger yet,” said Tracy Chandler, owner of the exercise studio A Balanced Approach.

She closed up shop two days before the governor mandated closures for all non-essential businesses. Under Phase 2, Chandler can resume her exercise classes as long as she stays at 25 percent capacity and keeps students ten feet apart. She says she’s still figuring out how to make that work.

“It would mostly be for human contact and just to get people motivated again, and that sense of community that we have there. It wouldn’t be a big moneymaker. But I think it’s worth doing, you know.”

The process of putting together a mitigation plan and complying with strict state guidelines is complicated. Chandler says it’s been a slog.

“I’m toggling between those two … I don’t know if it’s responsibility or slight laziness. [I’m] dragging my feet because I feel like I’m going to jump through all these hoops and then they’re just going to open it all up. Some days it’s just… I don’t want to deal with it.”

In the meantime, she says, she held her first outdoor, socially-distanced kickboxing class this weekend. Outside, she’s allowed to have 19 students with one instructor. She says she’s hoping to have some small classes in her studio starting next week.

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