What about those businesses still shut down?

Published 5:34 am Wednesday, June 24, 2020

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The state of North Carolina is currently in “Phase 2” under Executive Order 141 in response to COVID-19.

As of May 22, the following operations were allowed to open: restaurants, child care facilities, retail businesses, overnight camps, personal care/grooming/massage businesses, indoor and outdoor pools, tattoo parlors, and sporting and entertainment venues, all while following social distancing regulations and restrictions on occupancy.

Executive Order 141 will remain in place until June 26, unless changed or canceled. There are still many businesses and organizations that remain closed under the order, including public playgrounds, bars/nightclubs, movie theatres, bowling alleys and gaming establishments.

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The following facilities remain closed if operations take place indoors: spas, exercise facilities, gyms, fitness studios, martial arts facilities, dance studios, trampoline and rock-climbing facilities, roller skating rinks, ice skating rinks and basketball courts.

Outer Banks business owners and directors have spoken to The Coastland Times about how the orders have affected them and what they have done in the meantime to keep some business going, as they are able.

Charlee Ulmer, owner of Village Yoga, said her instructors have been offering online courses since mid-March. “We haven’t missed a day of offering any classes virtually since we’ve been closed,” Ulmer shared.

After many local fitness centers anticipated Order 141 to allow them to open again on May 22, most had to make additional adjustments to prior plans.

Ulmer said her studio is now offering outdoor classes in Manteo three times a week and seven days a week in Duck. She has utilized a “pay as you go” system for members for the virtual classes and standard rates class rates for in-person sessions.

Mandy Savage, director of the recently opened Roanoke Island Fitness Lab, said when they heard the news about having to close, they were upset: “How are we going to continue on? When that happened, we went back and forth for what to do.”

RIFL decided to offer a daily “workout of the day” video for members and put all their memberships on hold. Members were welcome to pick up equipment from the facility to use at home so they could continue to train while remaining apart.

After hearing word that Phase 2 may allow the opening of gyms, Savage said they started offering outdoor classes, limited to nine people plus one instructor starting May 11.

According to Savage, officers from the Manteo Police Department came to RIFL not long after and asked them to cease indoor and outdoor operations. “They were very nice and just doing their jobs,” Savage offered, “but we asked questions.”

After emailing the county and state, Savage said they received a quick turnaround in response from North Carolina, stating that the fitness center was allowed to offer classes outside with a maximum class size of 25, following Phase 2 guidelines.

Owner of Hammer Heads OBX Gym Stu Golliday asked questions, too. He has a hearing set on the matter for a date to be determined, but was granted the right to open May 1. “We’ve been operational because we’re a private gym,” he said.

Golliday has also been following social distancing guidelines and regulations with his private training sessions.

“The biggest misunderstanding people seem to have is all of the things that can be deemed essential,” he started. “Isn’t it interesting that most nonessentials are health institutions?”

Many local gym owners have similar feelings and also spoke on the hit they have endured since having to close.

“We’re a self-sustaining operation,” Matt Costa, owner of The Gym, shared. “Most of our revenue is not derived from the gym memberships, they paid the rent and that’s it. The number of guest passes that we sold [in the summer] paid for other expenses.”

Costa said his staff has been living off of unemployment checks. He added that the executive orders removed the big “income window” that his operation works off of in the tourist destination. “It’s a big letdown in American society.”

Gyms make up a good portion of the businesses still closed in the Outer Banks, but there are others still being affected.

The R/C Kill Devil Hills Movies 10 has been closed since the start, but has recently reminded the town of their presence. They teamed up with local band The Riff Tides in late May to host a fundraiser for the local food bank. They raised over $1200.

Movie staff volunteered and sold popcorn and soda at the fundraiser. Since then, the theatre has announced their planned reopening for July 10.

“For the safety of our customers and our staff, there will be many new procedures in effect when we re-open.” their Facebook post read. The date is also subject to executive orders.

Pioneer Theatre in downtown Manteo has also been able to sell “curbside concessions” despite having to close their doors.

They have teamed up with Claire Tillett at Claire’s Cakes to offer curbside service, including popcorn, drinks, concession candy and some super sweet treats, like homemade cupcakes and brownies.

Tillett said she has known Buddy Creef, owner of Pioneer, for a long time and was invited by Creef to come sell her treats at their concession stand.

“When I went there the first time, I sold out within 30 minutes,” Tillett said. Creef has been running the concessions almost every night since late March. Tillett said as long as orders are in place, she will continue to come when she can to sell her goodies alongside Creef at their outdoor stands.

At this point, it’s a waiting game for most. The one thing every closed business has in common is that they are eager and ready to open their doors and welcome the community back into their business.