Business owners prepare to reopen as state moves to Phase 1

Plaquemine barber prepares for Phase 1 of reopening

PLAQUEMINE, La. (WAFB) - Business owners have their work cut out for them as they work to be ready for Louisiana to initiate Phase 1 of reopening. Days before several business statewide will get back to business, Kendrick Whaley is already busy in his barbershop, Precision Cuts of Plaquemine. Just hours after the governor’s announcement, he was cleaning clippers and making sure everything is fresh for Friday, May 15.

“I’m glad and excited, but I also want to be very careful as we open our businesses back up,” said Whaley.

After being closed for more than a month, he says the governor’s announcement is right on time. It’s the first time Whaley has ever had to depend on unemployment and he’s ready to support himself again.

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“I want to get back to some sort of controlling my own destiny so to say,” said Whaley. “It’s not going to be where I used to be and what I normally make, but I’m going to make the best out of it.”

Barbershops are not the only businesses reopening Friday, May 15. Hair and nail salons will also welcome customers, as well as casinos and restaurants, but with with restrictions. The governor warns Louisiana is not out of the woods just yet.

“It’s not mission accomplished. We’re not declaring victory,” he added. “There’s still COVID out there, just like there is all over the country.”

Shops will have to follow social distancing guidelines, limit their operations to 25% capacity, and ensure masks are worn by everyone. The governor says the success of the reopening depends on how well everyone follows directions.

"There is a new normal in place and everybody has a role to play and I'm asking that you play that role,” he said. “It's extremely important if we're going to be successful."

Text messages are already rolling in from clients and Whaley says his appointments are quickly stacking up.

“If I go by my text messages, they gone beat the door down,” Whaley said.

For now, he says services will continue to be appointment only; they will cut back on how many customers they see and prices may see a slight bump. While so much changes as the state prepares to reopen, Whaley says the one thing that will not change at his shop is the quality of service provided to customers.

“We’re concerned about their hair, but we’re also concerned about their health. We’re gone do everything possible to secure the safety of our clients and ourselves,” he said.

East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome says she will release more details on what the reopening of businesses in the parish will look like on Friday.

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