Massachusetts Businesses Gradually Reopen Under Strict Guidelines

Businesses across Massachusetts spent Memorial Day weekend preparing to open, as phase one of the governor’s reopening plan takes effect Monday with some major industry-specific guidelines and alterations.

Retail stores can open for remote fulfillment and curbside pickup, offices outside Boston can open at 25% capacity, car washes can clean the outside of vehicles, some outdoor recreational activities can resume, including beaches, most boating, hunting and fishing locations, parks and some athletic fields and courts. Health care providers can perform high-priority preventative treatments, pediatric care and immunizations and treatment for high-risk patients. Recreational marijuana sales can continue, but customers must fulfill orders via curbside pickup, and hair salons, barber shops and pet groomers can take customers on an appointment-only basis.

Anthony Geanarris plans to open Anthony’s Barber Styling in Arlington on Tuesday, following the holiday. For Geannarris, who runs the barber shop with his sister Tina, reopening will mean running his business an entirely new way.

“We’ve been on the block for almost 25 years, so we know that we’re going to have people that are going to have to deal with a different routine than what they’re used to,” Geanarris said. “We had to shut the walk-in service down, which has probably been the most difficult thing to deal with, which is switching to an all-appointment phase with people that have never done that before.”

As of Tuesday, Anthony’s shop will take one customer at a time, by appointment, while the next customer waits outside in their car. The shop will only be open for haircuts, no beard trims, and both the employees and the customers must be wearing masks. Geanarris said the stylists will also be wearing gloves and protective goggles.

Geanarris said he wants to be as safe as possible now, so that future phases of reopening come quickly. Still, the barbershop owner misses the days of casual, open-door conversation.

“We’re a friendly neighborhood shop that’s been there for years,” he said. “John, the Irish guy around the corner, he usually stops by with his wife — now I can’t go to the door and comfortably say hello.”

Geanarris said he’s relying on his customer base to respect the rules and guidelines, and he has faith that they will do so.

“I’m not going to have the door locked on Tuesday, I’m not like that,” he said. “I grew up in that neighborhood, only a few streets away…I was a teenager when I started cutting some of these people’s hair, and now I’m 47.”

Though he knows this will change the very nature of his business, Geanarris said he hopes customers know that it’s just a temporary phase.

“I’d like to not feel like everything’s so different, really the only difference is that we’re wearing gloves and wearing a mask,” he said, “and we have to just put up with that for a little while. We’re just really, really hoping that we move forward from here and don’t go backwards.”

For more details on the reopening plan, visit the state’s website.

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