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Arizona restaurants resume dine-in service, other business wait for their turn

Restaurants took their first major step towards normalcy as other businesses plan on what reopening may look like for them.

PHOENIX — For the first time in over six weeks, restaurant patios had patrons eating and drinking. 

Monday marked the first time Arizona restaurants were able to offer dine-in service as long as they limited capacity and implemented social distancing measures. 

“It’s extremely exciting, it’s like opening up a restaurant all over again,“ said Paul Keeler, who owns Liberty station and other restaurants. 

Around 5 p.m. through dinner time, business at Liberty Station could have looked normal if you ignored the spaced out tables and masked servers. 

“We’re taking the motto: 'perception is reality,'” Keeler said. 

That is part of Liberty Station's new rules, all aimed to follow social distancing requirements set out by Gov. Doug Ducey. 

Liberty Station said they have reduced capacity by about half. They are checking employees' temperatures and placing a bottle of hand sanitizer at every table. 

“People have pent up demand but they also want to make sure we are ready to take care of their needs,” Keeler said. 

Keeler estimated more than 30% of people are on the fence if they are ready to go back out to a restaurant, so places like his are taking extra precautions. 

While restaurants are busy re-opening, other businesses like movie theaters and gyms are watching closely.

“In a situation like this there are so many parts and so many things we don’t know,” Nick Bach, Area Developer, Orangetheory Fitness, said. 

Bach is part of a group with Orangetheory Fitness locations throughout the country. He said corporate has worked to create new guidelines and protocols to prepare the fitness center when they can reopen. 

Orangetheory said they will cut class size and time. This will allow for social distancing and time to clean the gym in between classes. Customers will also have their temperature checked before they are allowed to participate in class. If they have a temperature of over 100 degrees, they will be asked to not go into the class. 

All employees will be required to wear protection over their mouths as well. 

“I think for us it’s doing the best we can with the information we have,” Bach said. 

According to Bach, Orangetheory will need time before they feel comfortable to reopen and are waiting to see if Ducey extends his stay-at-home order. 

Orangetheory said if the order is lifted, a target date for reopening will be around March 26. 

“I’ve heard the term new normal. I think it’s what it was, and what it will be,“ Bach said.

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