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Kentucky businesses, churches preparing to reopen as coronavirus restrictions are eased

Kentucky businesses, churches preparing to reopen as coronavirus restrictions are eased

 

Car dealers will be among the first non-essential businesses to reopen starting May 11.

At Bachman Auto Group, there have been fewer deals since the company was forced to close its showrooms six weeks ago.

“We’re off about 50% in sales,” President Steve Bachman said.

Bachman said when the showroom doors are unlocked, buying that new car or truck is going to be a much different experience. There will be fewer people allowed in the showroom, cars will be sanitized after they are driven, and everyone will wear protective equipment.

“Everybody wearing gloves, everybody wearing masks,” he said. “We have those plastic shields between the customers and our employees, trying to protect both sides.”

Bachman said the biggest challenge will be finding enough masks for all his employees.

Along with car and boat dealers, Beshear said the first wave of reopenings will include manufacturing, construction, professional services (with half the usual staff), horse racing (with no fans) and dog grooming and boarding.

All must adhere to social distancing and safety requirements.

“These are cautious steps that are going to be done with strict compliance,” Beshear said Wednesday.

The second wave of reopenings, beginning May 20, will include retail stores and houses of worship.

Michelle Tasman, the co-owner of the boutique store Rodeo Drive, said she will take whatever precautions the governor requires so she can remain open, including masks, gloves and sanitizer for both employees and customers.

She said the store will also limit the number of customers allowed in at one time.

“If we don’t continue to be safe, we’re going to end up right where we are now,” she said. “So we’re going to definitely be cautious.”

There will also be changes at church.

“No question about, they will look differently, at least initially,” said Todd Gray, executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

Gray expects most churches will limit attendance to less than half of capacity to maintain social distancing, and most who do attend will probably wear masks.

“I can’t imagine having a choir during this kind of an environment,” he said. “No offering plates being passed.”

He said churches will probably use some combination of multiple services, overflow rooms and continued live streaming online to manage attendance.

Gray said pastors and congregations are grateful to have a date for resuming in-person services.

“Being able to wave at people across a pew, being able to hear your pastor in a live in-person setting, I think that will mean a lot to people,” Gray said.

There is no schedule yet for reopening day care centers, and that will affect the number of people who are able to return to work.

“It’s not fair, and it’s hard,” Beshear said. “But if we opened a day care right now, then we would see a spike that ultimately would set us back.”

But even with the restrictions, the reopenings signal a slow return to some kind of normalcy.

“There is a light at the end of the tunnel,” Tasman said.

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