OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Business owners in Kansas are counting down the days until the statewide stay-at-home order is lifted, and some have already started prepping to reopen.
Jose’s Barbershop on Frontage Road in Overland Park closed its doors a month ago. The owner said it’s been a struggle to provide for his family. He’s willing to do whatever it takes open back up.
“It’s just been crazy because you’re used to having a routine,” said, owner Jose Montanez. “What we’re planning to do here, I think, goes above and beyond.”
The inside of his shop looks a lot different than a did in mid-March when a Governor Laura Kelly issued a stay-at-home order for the entire state of Kansas, forcing nonessential businesses to close. The governor extended the order on April 18 through May 1.
“We’re doing a lot of reading when it comes to what can we do to protect ourselves and the customers against the spread of COVID-19,” Montanez said.
He’s planning to only allow 10 people inside his shop at any given time, including staff. Clients will have to undergo temperature checks before entering the building. Masks must be worn by everyone. Barbers will also wear gloves and beard and face trimmings will not be permitted, among other precautions.
“We also have ordered face shields for the barbers to wear beside the masks, disposable capes for each customer and the same thing with the barber jackets. That way they can be disposed after each service,” Montanez explained.
Montanez, who has been in business for 17 years, also has a stockpile of cleaning supplies to ensure the equipment and space remains safe.
“This is something we have taken upon ourselves in order to take the necessary precautions, so whenever the time come, we are ready,” Montanez said. “We understand what’s at stake.”
Despite the added precautions, Montanez may still have to wait past May 1 before he can start cutting hair again. Governor Kelly has said once the statewide order ends, she will leave it to local authorities to decide whether to extend restrictions as they see fit.
On Wednesday, the Johnson County COVID-19 Recovery Task Force met for the first time to strategize about the best approach to reopening the county’s economy. It could happen in phases.
“Uniformity is important,” said Prairie Village Mayor Erick Mikkelson, who is the Mayor’s Council representative on the task force.
Mikkelson encouraged the panel to consider how the decisions of area cities will impact the county and vice versa.
“Maybe some of that’s good and maybe some of that’s bad, but I don’t think we need to be mindful of all of that,” he said. “If one barbershop opens somewhere within a 20-mile radius, that could very well become the busiest ever in the state of Kansas.”
Montanez is remaining optimistic. However, he said he doesn’t know what he will do if he can’t reopen soon but he fears the worst.
“People think, ‘Oh you own a little shop, you’re doing good’, but it’s a struggle when you don’t have a steady income coming in and you have a family that depends on you,” he said. “It will be devastating if they don’t allow us to open. We might even have to close the shop for good.”
Representatives of the task force recognized during their meeting that a lot of small business owners, like Montanez, don’t qualify for federal assistance. They’re taking that into consideration as they make their decision.
The group meets again Friday morning. They are expected to make recommendations next week.