As cities reopen but COVID-19 concerns remain, business owners adapt for ‘new normal’

KC Comeback

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Until there’s a vaccine for COVID-19, things are going to be different. As we ease back into daily life, many have asked: What is the new normal?

FOX4 dug deeper into what you can expect when you leave the house.

The heart of Kansas City is the people. We are all learning to live in a new way for who knows how long. Everything will be a little different with a lot of cooperation.

“I think, in our industry, it’s definitely going to have a different vibe,” said Melissa Tanner, owner of Delphinum Salon in the Crossroads.

She said masks will be the new fashion accessory for her stylists.

“I think it’s really important just to make everybody feel like they’re comfortable being in our space,” Tanner said. “Whatever we have to do to make the clients feel comfortable is important.”

She’s been renovating her space and her business plan. Clients will wait in their car for appointments.

“They’ll get a text or a phone call letting them know that they can come in,” Tanner said. “They’ll have to sanitize at the front desk. We’ll have the sign-in book. After that, masks obviously. We’ll encourage them to bring their own mask. If they don’t have them, we will provide them.”

Tanner said reopening will be a fresh start she’s ready for.

Getting to the doctor will be as easy as opening an app.

The University of Kansas Health System is speeding up a plan they hoped to roll out over the next two years. Dr. Keith Sale with the hospital said the pandemic accelerated their timeline.

“There is no post-COVID. There’s just the COVID world we live in now,” Sale said. “Because that COVID world is still a real thing, we have to think about ways to deliver health care a little bit differently.”

Sale said telehealth will ease hospital traffic. By doing more appointments online, it reduces the amount of people coming into the hospital.

He also hopes waiting rooms become a thing of the past. Sale said the plan is for patients to eventually be able to go straight from their car to their exam room. That way everyone can manage their time better.

“We can give you an update via text,” Sale said. “You can log in and find out where you are in the queue for that physician or that provider.”

He said many visits aren’t necessary in person. He believes in the future people may be able to do more in-home health monitoring, so they can update doctors on things like their heart rate and glucose levels digitally.

“I think this has opened the doors to a new way to take care of patients and to access patients in a way that we never could before,” Sale said.

Getting back to the gym may mean doing more and moving less.

Sean Van Horn with Freight House Fitness said they have a plan. Their workouts revolve around high intensity training where clients rotate from weights and cardio.

Touching a space someone else did is inevitable, and Van Horn said with the way they were doing things, it would be impossible to stay sterile.

“My goal right now is to keep people as safe as possible,” Van Horn said. “I know that a lot of people are really skeptical when it comes to gyms and COVID-19, so I’m trying to go above and beyond to make this the safest place for people to come to.”

It may not be the circuit you’re used to. You’ll come into the gym, disinfect your area, and do your entire workout from one spot — all while social distancing at 6 feet.

Van Horn said during this time, they also created an online exercise experience for his clients. They offered weight rentals while they were closed and even called clients to help them stay accountable and motivated.

“I think life will throw you things, you know, and you just have to be ready to change or adapt or die,” Van Horn said.

Chicken & Pickle in North Kansas City is open at 10% capacity. Employees are wearing masks, and customers no longer wait in a line to order. Your server will come to your table. Social games, like bags, will be sanitized after each use.

“Our whole service model has changed,” managing partner Bill Crooks said.

Not only are they taking precautions in the dining room, but also on the pickleball courts.

“All of hard surfaces are done on the hour, and inside the courts we used to schedule court times about every hour on the hour,” Crooks said. “And now we schedule them every hour and 15 minutes, so we’re able to sanitize the hard surfaces in the courts, the balls and the paddles.”

In Westport, the lights in many bars and clubs remain out. Streets are more sparse, and social distancing for many means staying home instead of lining up on the sidewalks.

Jay Keitel is the general manager at Lotus, one of Brett Allred’s five bars in Kansas City — four of them are in Westport. All are closed for business until they can find a safe way to operate.

“This industry basically died,” Keitel said. “People just stopped being able to go out and enjoy themselves, and it’s going to put a strain on a lot of small business owners because of that. We want to make sure it’s safe one hundred percent for our customers and employees before we reopen.”

For everyone, the new normal will take a while.

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