SALT LAKE CITY — Shani and Sergei Oveson were excited to reopen dine-in seating Friday at their small downtown Salt Lake City restaurant that saw an 85% drop in sales since mid-March, when eateries across Utah were limited to offering takeout orders to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
However, the couple still has modest financial expectations as Utah and some other states allow certain businesses to reopen as the U.S. begins to emerge from its self-imposed, hunkering down phase of the COVID-19 outbreak. The Ovesons anticipates no more than a 25% bump in business at their Ramen Bar, which will have only half of its usual seating capacity due to social distancing requirements.
The Ovesons are also a little nervous about their own health, even though they plan to regularly disinfect everything and require masks for themselves and their five employees. Customers will be asked to wear masks as much as possible. The couple, with two daughters, ages 7 and 11, also posted a sign telling anyone with a fever, cough or body aches not to come inside.
“We’re really excited to be open, but at the same time we’re scared that the virus will reignite and we’ll have to close again which would be so hard for us,” said Shani Oveson, 36. “Owning your own business can be so scary financially, we have to risk getting sick to survive.”
Under Utah’s phased reopening plan, hair salons, gyms, restaurants and bars were allowed to reopen Friday.
Mike Turner, 30, was ecstatic about meeting his friend for a beer at Cheers to You in Salt Lake City. He has been going to an office each day during the pandemic because his technology job was deemed essential, but he missed being able to unwind with friends.
“Emotionally it has been pretty stressful,” Turner said. “Drinking at home is so different. I love being at home, I love my family but being at a bar and just chilling out with your friends, talking about stupid stuff is just nice.”
The London native wears a mask, washes his hands every 20 minutes and recognizes that the threat of getting the virus is far from over. But going to work every day has helped made him comfortable being out of the house.
That state has reported 46 deaths and about 4,800 cases of coronavirus. Utah has the fourth-lowest rate of deaths per 100,000 people among states and the sixth-highest rate of people tested per 1,000, according to The COVID Tracking Project.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe life-threatening illness, including pneumonia, and death.
“I’m not too worried about it,” Turner said.