WASHINGTON – As the nation's capital took the first tiny steps toward reopening Friday, the continued threat of coronavirus was ever present.
Showing IDs was not enough at the Dacha Beer Garden in Washington's Shaw neighborhood. Would-be customers had to answer a series of questions about any possible exposure to the COVID-19 and whether they themselves had shown any symptoms.
“Please keep your mask on when you’re not dining and drinking,” hostess Amy Symonds told the patrons, laying out a series of rules and taking down everyone's’ phone numbers before they were seated at socially-distanced tables.
“It’s good to have some level of normalcy again,” said Jeff Gullo, who was one of the first in line to get in. Fifteen minutes after opening, nearly two dozen people were seated at the popular all outdoor facility.
But the gradual reopening of the District of Columbia as a three-month stay-at-home order was lifted came in fits and starts, with not everyone ready for even a limited return to pre-pandemic normality.
Barbers and hair salons welcomed back clients grown haggard from months of self-maintenance. Nonessential businesses, shuttered since late March, started offering curbside pickup. And restaurants that have been operating solely on takeout began limited outdoor seating.
From the outside, the Randolph Cree hair salon in Washington DC's Eastern Market commercial area looked like it was still closed. But inside the door and up the stairs, a visitor found a mini hive of activity , with a cashier behind a plastic shield and three masked hairdressers each tending to a masked client.
“Now that people know we're actually open, the phone is ringing constantly,” said Michael, a salon employee who declined to give his last name. “Everybody's in a really great mood so far. A good haircut can really affect how you feel about yourself.”