NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - The coronavirus outbreak forced Manuel Mann to close his doors at Manolos Barber Shop in LaPlace just days after celebrating his grand opening.
“We had to close back down because of the situation. So, it's been kind of rough,” Mann said.
Thursday, like several LaPlace business owners, he was back in the shop preparing to reopen as St. John Parish shifts to Phase One. He is sanitizing clippers, wiping down chairs, and setting new rules.
"It's going to be mostly appointment only based,” Mann said. “If we do get a walk-in, they will have to wait outside. We're not going to have anyone in the waiting area."
Under Governor John Bel Edwards’ order, Mann will have to operate at 25% occupancy.
St. John Parish President Jaclyn Hotard announced a safety reopening task force to help businesses open while following state orders.
“This reopening task force run by the St. John fire department will make sure that our businesses have adequate resources and information needed to safely reopen and to adhere to the phase one guidelines,” Hotard said.
Fire Chief Cain Dufrene says the group won’t visit every business ensuring they are complying but instead businesses can request assistance.
“We’re looking to be the monitoring and educational component of this to make sure businesses have all the tools they need to open up safely,” Dufrene said. “To operate safely and to monitor that operation to make sure that they are operating within guidelines of both the governor and state fire marshal.”
As the parish moves into phase one, the curfew Sheriff Mike Tregre put in place will be lifted.
All parish organized camps along with spring and summer sports are cancelled, “due to the inability to foresee which phase [the parish] will be in at that time, “ Hotard said. Refunds are currently being processed for anyone who previously registered.
Hotard says private camps are allowed to operate within the parish but they must follow the governor’s guidelines and follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocol.
Hotard says 3, 737 Parish residents have been tested for COVID-19 with 78 deaths. She says the cases are flattening and is comfortable moving to Phase One.
“However, we won’t totally be comfortable until we’ve moved to a point where we have a vaccine or we have medicines that will help treat those," Hotard said.
While it’s not mandatory, the parish is passing out signs, for businesses to display, encouraging people to wear masks.
It’s not something Mann is requiring from his clients but making sure all of his barbers have masks or face coverings. He says since the Governor’s announce letting him reopen, calls from clients immediately came in, “we’re pretty booked already.”
He says he’s grateful to get back to work.
“I know that it’s been tough on a lot of people,” Mann said. “It’s been tough on me. It’s been tough on my guys,” Mann said.