PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md. — With Monday marking the beginning of Phase 2 in Prince George's County, some businesses welcomed customers back inside their stores after being closed for months.
Inside Ebony Barbers in Hyattsville, some waited outside for their appointment as staff meticulously cleaned off chairs and equipment at each station.
According to the county guidelines, capacity will be limited to 50% for barbershops and hair salons during Phase 2.
Staff and customers will also be required to wear facemasks and personal protective equipment during each appointment.
"It’s good to be back," manager William Cooke said on Monday. "It’s good to reconnect with my coworkers. It’s good to reconnect with our clients.”
Nearby, another barber was using a towel to wipe down his booth and chair after cleaning each item at his station.
While the cleaning adds more tasks to be done, Cooke said that the activity inside the store was a welcome sight.
"When I finish my client, I have to make sure my station is back in order -- I have to make sure everything is clean," he said. "It’s not a big deal. We’re talking safety right now.”
Due to the guidelines, the barbershop has half the amount of barbers during the day than it normally did before the pandemic.
However, Cooke said keeping staff and customers healthy was the main priority for the business.
"I just want everybody else to be safe," he said.
The return on Monday came after a brutal drop in business for some stores and restaurants.
Despite the reopenings, Prince George's County Economic Development Corporation President David Iannucci said recovery from the pandemic would take time.
"It’s not going to be a light switch, it’s going to be a dimmer switch," he said. "Many of them will get through it but they’re going to have to be creative. We know it won’t be business as usual.”
Iannucci said that the county's COVID-19 Business Recovery Initiative has assisted over 300 businesses with over $5 million in grants so far this year.
Moving forward, he said a crucial element of recovery will come down to consumers.
"It will be the comfort level of citizens of this county, this state and nation," he said. "Even with open restaurants, are they going to be comfortable going to these restaurants?”