By: Anne Geggis
You can now go back to the office, drop Fifi off for a groom, and do the downward dog pose at a small yoga studio as Broward County on Thursday announced another step back toward life before coronavirus.
But, it’s not quite normal life yet: no barhopping, bowling, theater-going, or exercising at a commercial gym where equipment is shared among customers.
The latest move comes four days since Broward County took its first step toward opening up some nonessential businesses.
On Monday, restaurants, stores, and hair salons were allowed to start retaking customers, the first since the shutdown in mid-March. Shutting nonessential businesses, unprecedented in modern memory, was part of an effort to stop the spread of a new coronavirus for which there is no known cure, and the only defense is avoiding the infected.
The latest loosening of the shutdown means that Angeline Starling, of Halo Mortgage in Coral Springs, will be back at her office suite on Tuesday. The management company that runs her offices will start servicing the building again. But she’s got some trepidation about going back out there, she said.
“It’s a little bit worrisome what’s going on,” she said. “We’ll do our best to protect ourselves and our customers when they come in.”
The statistics show she has a reason to be concerned. People testing positive for the virus, as a percentage of the number tested, has edged up slightly in the last seven days, compared to the previous seven days’ average. For deaths, the seven-day average has crept up since hitting a low point on May 15.
Not all open businesses are getting customers. Alpha Preschool Academy in Tamarac never had to shut down because of its “essential” status. But it’s going to stay shut until June 1.
“We did not have the amount of parents who need care at this time,” said David Mohabir, who owns the business, explaining that just five children were brought in for a Monday opening when ten were expected.
Broward County Commissioner Michael Udine, who represents Tamarac, said that he’s watching the numbers of infections and deaths carefully.
“Everyone is going to have to be a part of doing this safely,” he said, pointing out how the latest county order reiterates the need to continue staying at least six feet from nonhousehold members and wearing facemasks in common, indoor areas, such as supermarkets. “Everyone is going to have to take personal responsibility.”
Broward County Commissioner Lamar Fisher is going to open his business, Fisher Auction Company, on Tuesday.
Face masks will go on if a visitor comes into the office, employees will maintain a safe distance from each other, and door handles and other common surfaces will be continually disinfected, he said.
“In other words, the new normal,” Fisher said.
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- Anne Geggis has been a newspaper reporter for 30 years, most recently at the Sun Sentinel. She graduated from St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vt., with a double major in journalism and sociology.
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