INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — On Friday, Governor Eric Holcomb is expected to announce the next steps toward re-opening Indiana’s economy, but certain sectors are hoping to know ahead of time.
The Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association (InRLA) believes an early notice will allow the hospitality industry to get the proper resources and workers ready for safe a re-open. Georgia has already begun opening their state, and the entertainment bar Bad Axe Throwing, which has an Indy location, only had two customers during the opening weekend at their Atlanta spot. This comes despite heavy safety advertising ahead of their re-opening.
“Even though people in our target demographic may not be in the at risk category, I think people still are erring on the side of caution,” explains Bad Axe Throwing CEO Mario Zelaya, ““Atlanta was the canary in the coal mine to give us the indication of when we should open, how many people we should hire back. People aren’t going to rush through the doors, so budget accordingly. Right now we have people who are frankly earning more than we could ever possibly give them because we don’t have customers, and we don’t have shifts. I’m not going to hurt my staff, so I won’t say we will hire you guys back, so [you] have one shift a week, and you make $50 a week. Us opening in Atlanta gives us great insight into what to do in other cities.”
While Bad Axe Throwing got ahead of the game in terms of safety and cleaning supplies, Zelaya believes it will be huge problem for a lot of businesses that try to re-open and adhere to new state safety guidlelines.
“You can not find the supplies that the state is mandating that you need in order to operate. That is a whole different challenge. We are going directly to suppliers and manufacturers themselves because the retail stores don’t have them,” describes Zelaya, “We are wiping down all the handles [of our axes]. We are cleaning surfaces. We are making sure that all of our staff is checked out before coming into shifts.”
“Of course Georgia opened before us ,so we are kind of seeing what they are going through,” adds Kimberly Hubbard who owns Kimberly’s Hair Design, and is hoping to see salons get the green light in Indiana.
Most hair stylists have been without an income or pandemic unemployment assistance so far. In fact, if they cut hair on the side they could have their license removed, and if they sell hair products on the side it could hamper their ability to collect pandemic unemployment assistance as a self employed person.
Hubbard and master stylist Amber McDowell run a Facebook page with more than 4,000 other stylists and salon owners who are all looking for answers, but finding none.
“Everyone on our page keeps asking what’s our guidelines to follow? Well we don’t have any guidelines, and we call the state Board of Cosmetology, and they say they are looking towards the Governor,” says Hubbard.
Like InRLA, they want to know ahead of time when they will re-open. As President Donald Trump has outlined his phases for re-opening, they want to know what phase they fall into in the state’s plan to re-open.
“It’s an incredibly huge job to wipe out a months worth of clientele, and then attempt to rebook them on a few days notice,” explains McDowell.
They have been taking notes from stylists in Atlanta as possible protocols that may be in place in Indiana. They fear it could severely hamper their profits.
“We are probably only going to be able to do one person at a time which is going to hit my bottom line profit,” says Hubbard, who often works two clients at a time, “They tell us we are going to have to disinfect and sanitize after every client, so that’s gonna take an addition fifteen to thirty minutes.”
For businesses in Marion County, Mayor Joe Hogsett has already extended the stay-at-home order in Indiana until May 15th. Businesses should know that supersedes any state announcement on Friday.