While Juneau’s bars and gyms will continue to operate with strict mask policies and distancing rules, the reduction to risk Level 1 will give those businesses back some much-needed flexibility, said owners.
“Honestly, I think, they’re like, people are gonna all go crazy. We’re not going to go crazy. We won’t have to turn people away and that’s going to make a difference,” said Leeann Thomas, owner of the Triangle Club. “It makes a better work environment for the bartenders. It was really hard to do anything when we were capped at 50% capacity.”
While guidelines keep the social distancing and mask-wearing rules in effect, the easing down to Level 1 removes the 50% cap on guests. For many, that doesn’t make a huge difference, but it means that bartenders will no longer have to count heads so long as everyone’s complying with the six foot distancing rule.
“It has had no effect on us. There’s still the mask ordinance in effect. Social distancing is still in effect,” said Joe Parrish, managing partner of Pavitt Health and Fitness in a phone interview. “It allows for a larger percentage of the gym to be filled, but that’s never been an issue for us.”
The biggest step the city could take has yet to be breached, Parrish said.
“The biggest thing that’s going to make a difference for us that we’re waiting for the dam to break on is group fitness,” Parrish said. “Right now, we do have an exemption from the city to do live group fitness classes.”
Those fitness classes are a community of their own, Parrish said, which many people made steady parts of their lives before the pandemic.
“We can only have a maximum of seven people in the group fitness studio. Ninety-nine percent of our group fitness classes are a hybrid. You can come in, if there’s room, or join in virtually on zoom,” Parrish said. “Since we’ve gone virtual, we’ve got people from Pennsylvania, Michigan — you can join from anywhere. Our Rock Steady Boxing class, for people with Parkinson’s, we have 30 people from all over the country.”
Bars and gyms, which have borne a crushing burden surviving the pandemic, may finally get a small respite.
“I think the benefit is that we have a chance of making money and keeping people employed. We understand that there’s a mask mandate, and we’re going to honor it,” Thomas said.
Thomas said the Triangle was working on ways to safely accommodate pods or households within its admittedly limited floorspace. Parrish said the gym was trending positively as well.
“As far as the gym goes, I will tell you that January was our best month since we reopened,” Parrish said. “We figured this was about when things would be turning around. We were really glad to see some black ink at the end of January.”
Parrish said the gym was fortunate and that they intended to keep their mitigation measures firmly in place.
“We hang the signs all over the gym with the ordinances imploring people to please wear a mask. The staff is required to wear masks all the time, no exceptions,” Parrish said. “It feels like we’re really fortunate. Our brothers and sisters in the tourism industry, we have a lot of empathy.”
• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or email@example.com.