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Retail businesses opening their doors: Why some feel ready

Starting Friday, May 1, many Texas businesses are allowed to open their doors for customers to come inside.

AUSTIN, Texas — Many Texas businesses have the green light to reopen, and they are figuring out how to do so safely. 

Gov. Greg Abbott laid out his team's expectations in this booklet for reopening the state. 

For retail businesses and customers this includes: 

  • Monitor what items customers touch to clean or disinfect when the customer leaves the store
  • Wiping down all commonly used surfaces and doors/handles throughout the day
  • Contactless payment, if possible
  • Maintaining social distancing in the stores by six or more feet
  • Screening employees prior to work
  • Businesses are only allowed up to 25% capacity in counties with six or more COVID-19 cases, or 50% in counties with less than that

However, small businesses said they also are considering their own additional measures. 

Erin Cox, an assistant manager at Blue Elephant Boutique, said they are limiting even more people who are in the store by keeping only one employee on each shift. Typically, they have three to four employees staffed at one time.

When retail businesses got approval for retail-to-go earlier this month, Blue Elephant began getting customers again. A sigh of relief, since, like many businesses, they too were hit by hard times because of coronavirus. 

Cox said opening their doors allows customers to see their full stock and enjoy the retail experience. 

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"Hopefully being open to the public and letting people be able to come in and shop will help us a lot more than just online and curbside," Cox said.

Other smaller retailers said they did not get heavy foot traffic during a normal day without coronavirus. People came and go in a spread-out manner.

"I know we have a long road ahead with this, but as we ease back into real life, I think what I do is make people feel good about shopping again," said Kristen Ernst, the owner of Grove Hill ATX, a small boutique near downtown. 

Ernst said she already works with a small staff, so she did not have to make significant adjustments re-opening her store. 

Today is the day! Some Texas businesses are allowed to re-open their doors. Tori Larned discusses what you need to know. https://www.kvue.com/mobile/article/news/health/coronavirus/covid-19-austin-texas-reopening-central-coronavirus/269-d2addb49-7210-4826-9d0a-a24ead14ca34

Posted by KVUE on Friday, May 1, 2020

As people come and go, she is ready to disinfect everything and control how many people come and go. This includes asking people to wait outside if she reaches 25% capacity. 

Neither retailer anticipates getting back to normal any time soon. They are ready to open their businesses, but they want to do so in a safe manner that allows them to follow all guidelines to keep everyone safe and the curve flat. 

"I think slow and steady progression, and I hope it is because I want people to enjoy the experience of shopping again," Ernst said.

WATCH: Checklist: What you can expect retail stores to do as they reopen

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