Starting Monday, people will be able to sit down for a dine-in restaurant meal and get a haircut in Lake County for the first time since March.
Under Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb's Back on Track Indiana plan to reopen the state, restaurants and bars that serve food in Lake County can reopen at 50% capacity with some restrictions. Bars must remain closed. No live entertainment is allowed to avoid crowds. Servers and kitchen staffs must wear masks or other face coverings.
Barbershops, hair salons, nail salons, spas, tattoo parlors and other personal service businesses can open by appointment only. Employees must wear face coverings, work stations must be spaced out 6 feet apart, and customers should wear face coverings.
Both the state of Indiana and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend people continue to wear face coverings when out in public so they don't infect other people with coronavirus, which has infected 1.5 million Americans and killed more than 87,000 in just a few months because it has so many asymptomatic carriers who show no outward symptoms.
Not wearing a mask can pose a risk that businesses that were allowed to reopen will be closed again after a spike in cases, which occurred with bars and nightclubs in South Korea.
"It has been a long, long time since we closed down for COVID-19, but per Gov. Holcomb’s 'Back on Track' initiative, Lake County is set to reopen on Monday, May 18," Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce President Dave Ryan said. "Stay safe, practice social distancing, wash your hands, wear your masks, and we will see you very soon."
Restaurants and personal services businesses are not required to open Monday, but many plan to after going weeks with only carryout and delivery revenue coming in.
Buffalo Wild Wings plans to reopen its dining rooms Monday in Schererville, Valparaiso, Merrillville, Crown Point and Hammond. The restaurant chain said it has ramped up safety and sanitation, such as by removing tables and chairs to encourage social distancing, cleaning high-touch point areas with increased frequency, and conducting wellness checks when employees show up to work.
The chicken wing restaurants will offer single-use disposable menus and condiments to everyone, and single-use cutlery and cups to anyone who requests them. Buffalo Wild Wings also will continue to offer delivery and takeout for those who don't yet feel comfortable dining out.
Lucrezia opened its Italian restaurants in Chesterton and Culver for full-service dining at 50% capacity and it is opening the Crown Point location Monday. The acclaimed fine-dining spot continuously wins best Italian restaurant in The Times Best of the Region polls.
Sheffield's Restaurant in Dyer, Tyler's Tender Rail Road Restaurant in Schererville, Gelsosomo's Pizzeria Crown Point and Region On Tap, and the Xscape Quest escape room in Michigan City all reopen Monday. Firehouse Subs in Portage and the Bradys This Is It discount store, a 53-year-old institution off the Burr Street exit on the Borman Expressway in Gary, reopened last Monday.
Simply Wigs in Merrillville reopens Tuesday by appointment only.
Staff Source in Hammond has remained open by appointment during the pandemic and is helping people out of work find new jobs.
"We help companies find employees, and we help people find jobs or advance their careers," President Mirko Marich said.
Not all restaurants will open their dining rooms initially after the restrictions are lifted in Lake County and across the state. Some are sticking with carryout, curbside pickup and delivery for the time being, including Grindhouse Cafe in Griffith, Octave Grill in Chesterton, and Tavern on Main Craft Bar and Eatery in Crown Point.
"We will not be opening up our dining room quite yet. We know many of you are eager to dine in again, but for the safety of our staff, families and community, we are choosing to remain carry-out only for now," Octave Grill posted on Facebook Tuesday. "With the tremendous support of all of you we have been able to stay open during this time and are happy to report that, as of today, 100% of our staff is back on."
The Miller Beach Market in Gary's Miller Beach neighborhood reopens June 7, but one of its largest vendors — Miller Beach Swag — does not plan to be there in the immediate future.
"I don't feel comfortable yet being a vendor in a few weeks," owner Rudy Lomberger said. "It's a personal choice, and I'm not an expert on the science of this at all. But I'm going to err on the side of caution. We will continue to do delivery service for anyone that wishes to purchase our products at www.millerbeachswag.com."
For a longer list of open businesses, visit nwi.com/weareopen.
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If you've got tips about new stores or restaurants anywhere in the Region, or just wonder what's under construction somewhere, contact NWI Business Ins and Outs columnist Joseph S. Pete at email@example.com or 219.933.3316.