Provo businesses reopen as Utah’s restrictions loosen

Patrons visit Two Jacks Pizza on Center Street in Provo on May 1. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert announced the state is loosening its restrictions on businesses and restaurants following the COVID-19 outbreak. (Preston Crawley)

Provo’s Center Street saw more visitors than usual Friday night as many restaurants and businesses reopened following Gov. Gary Herbert’s announcement that loosened Utah’s COVID-19 restrictions.

Many restaurants are cautiously beginning to reopen their doors, while some others plan to open beginning in the coming weeks.

Good Move Cafe, a board game restaurant in Provo, will open with limited seating options to enforce social distancing. All employees will wear gloves and masks and retrieve games for customers, according to owner Shawn Moon. All games will be quarantined for four days to ensure they are not carrying any germs or contagion.

Heart & Seoul Karaoke opened today allowing patrons to make advanced reservations. Employees are required to wear gloves and masks and customers are encouraged to do the same. Groups are limited to fewer than 15 people and reservations can only be made two hours in advance, according to a social media post from the company.

K’s Kitchen, a Japanese food restaurant in Provo, announced they will open for limited hours each day with fewer seating options. Employees will disinfect all tables frequently and wear masks and gloves.

Some businesses, like Station 22 on Center Street in Provo, are delaying opening. Station 22 began remodeling during the COVID-19 restrictions and will not be ready to open this weekend. Other businesses have decided to remain closed for dine-in options and continue delivery, takeout and drive-thru services.

Five Sushi Brothers owner Jacob Chung said many of their employees felt uncomfortable with the idea of opening to the public.

“Their safety, along with our customer’s safety, is our number one priority,” Chung said.

The dine-in area at Five Sushi Brothers is small and social distancing would greatly limit the number of people who could even sit inside. The company already operated heavily through takeout and delivery since opening four years ago and the transition has not been as difficult as it has for other primarily dine-in restaurants.

“We have really been doing our best to work out the kinks and bugs of our website and delivery service over these four years, which prepared us for this time,” Chung said.

Five Sushi Brothers permanently closed their Salt Lake location partially because of COVID-19. Chung said this decision is helping them focus on moving forward with their Provo location.

“For us, we feel it is best to keep our doors closed and only continue to do takeout and delivery,” he said.

Customers are able to get sushi by delivery, takeout or curbside services at Five Sushi Brothers. Owner Jacob Chung said Five Sushi Brothers will continue to restrict dine-in services for customers to keep employees and customers safe and healthy. (Preston Crawley)

As restaurants determine how they will move forward after Herbert’s announcement, gyms are also beginning to allow people to use their facilities.

Provo Recreation Center plans to open on Tuesday, May 5. The center described updates on its facility status and plans for moving forward as “fluid and transitioning.” In a recorded answering machine message, it said the center is working to come up with a fair and reasonable solution for patrons.

VASA Fitness in Provo and Orem announced in an email to all members that they will open for limited hours starting May 7 at 6 a.m. VASA will limit the number of patrons in the gym at a time by allowing patrons in for scheduled one-hour time slots.

On April 29, Gov. Herbert placed Utah under “moderate risk” COVID-19 protocols beginning May 1.

“We aren’t returning to business as usual yet. We will not return to ‘normal’ for a significant period of time,” Herbert said in a press conference. “We can now cautiously relax some requirements and allow businesses that were closed to operate with safety measures in place.”

The protocols for “moderate risk” allow dine-in options for restaurants and personal care establishments like gyms and salons to reopen their doors. Herbert encourages these facilities and businesses to exercise “extreme precautions” outlined in published guidelines.

Despite the loosening of restrictions, positive COVID-19 cases continue to increase. According to the Utah Department of Health, 4.3% of the 112,558 people tested have tested positive.

“We are watching data very closely as we enter the orange phase. If necessary, we will quickly transition back to red. Please exercise caution as we loosen restrictions this weekend,” said Herbert in a tweet.

The orange phase still maintains that people wear masks in public, continue social distancing of minimum six feet and stick to only essential travel.

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