Restaurants in much of Indiana allowed to reopen at half capacity; Lake County, Ind. enters phase 2 of Gov. Holcomb's reopening plan

PORTAGE, Ind. (WLS) -- Lake County, Indiana entered phase 2 of Governor Eric Holcomb's reopening plan Monday.

Meanwhile, in much of the rest of the state, restaurants can reopen at 50 percent capacity and personal services like salons and barbershops can open their doors again. That is not the case in Lake County because of the higher concentration of COVID-19 cases.

Personal service businesses can now re-open in most of the state with certain restrictions. At places like barbershops, new rules are in place for staff and also for customers who are required to make appointments.

"They cannot wait inside the shop, they must wait in the car," Thomas said. "I must wear a mask. I must change gloves with each customer."

Also a majority of Indiana can start re-opening restaurants at half capacity.

Radius, a restaurant in Porter County closed down back in March. Nearly two months later, owner Chris Pavlou was happy to see his customers dining in again.

"Today has been great. We have a lot of regulars that are excited to be here," he said. "We got the place ready for social distancing. We have our masks and the employees are wearing them, and we are being very sanitary."

The customers do not have to wear a mask if they do not want to, Pavlou said.

On Monday night, Pavlov said people were already making reservations again.

"We feel a little cooped up," said Nathan Walker, a customer Monday night. "We got appetizers, soup and we ate like we had not eaten in seven weeks."

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Restaurants in Indiana reopen at half capacity in much of state while LIke County enters second phase of Governor Eric Holcomb's reopening plan

The Rosewood Family Restaurant in Portage had to close down completely for two months.

"We're just glad to be back," said Maggie Karakozis, owner of Rosewood family restaurant. "Wanna welcome everybody back and hopefully we're gonna get back to I know it's a new normal but some sort of a new normal."

The restaurant is now wiping down menus and keeping patrons as far apart as they can. Monday morning regular customers came back for breakfast.

"Well I'm tired of my own cooking and this is one of my favorite restaurants in Portage and I try to support the local businesses since I live in town and have for 44 years," said customer William Tharp.

The majority of Indiana entered Phase 2 last month. However, three counties, Lake, Marion and Cass, did not at that time.

In phase 2 retail and commercial businesses can reopen at 50 percent capacity. Joshua Halpern's two jewelry stores in Lake County have been closed since March.

"It has been as bad as you can imagine," Halpern said. "I had to lay off and furlough 90 percent of my staff."

Halpern and his employees have been prepping the stores to get ready for customers, installing plexiglass, putting out masks, gloves and sanitizer.

"I don't think anybody even realizes how much this is going to add to people's budgets this year," Halpern said.

Lake County restaurant and bars that serve food will be able to open at 50% capacity May 18, as part of the second stage.

"We as owners get to make our own decisions too," said El Taco Real Owner Raymundo Garcia. "I am probably going to wait another week after that."

The mayor of Portage is hoping cases don't spike in her community.

"I think no one wants to go backwards in this so everyone is going forward as carefully as we can so we don't take 10 steps backwards," said Portage Mayor Sue Lynch.

With many restrictions remaining in place in Illinois, elected officials and business owners in northwest Indiana say they hope it doesn't fuel the spread of the virus here.

"We have a lot of people coming across the state line, and since Illinois is still closed, I am a little worried that people might be coming over here more since we are opening," Maravilla said.

The governor has said that he hopes Indiana will be completely re-opened by July 4.
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