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News >  Idaho

Idaho retailers welcome customers, as state’s four-stage rebound plan gets underway

Terry Cooper, left, of the Coeur d'Alene Downtown Association and fellow association member Emily Boyd, right, are greeted by Amy VanSickle, director of marketing at Coeur d'Alene Resort, in Coeur d'Alene on Friday when retail stores, places of worship and youth daycares and camps in the state reopened. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Terry Cooper, left, of the Coeur d'Alene Downtown Association and fellow association member Emily Boyd, right, are greeted by Amy VanSickle, director of marketing at Coeur d'Alene Resort, in Coeur d'Alene on Friday when retail stores, places of worship and youth daycares and camps in the state reopened. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
By Ellen Dennis For The Spokesman-Review

Mix It Up, a home decor and gift shop located in downtown Coeur d’Alene, opened its doors to customers for the first time in more than a month Friday, and there was apparently some pent-up demand for its offerings.

“We are on par to set a sales record for the 1st of May in any given year,” shop owner Beth Rich Brown said.

Brown’s store is one of the many nonessential retail businesses permitted to reopen under Gov. Brad Little’s “Idaho Rebounds” plan.

Little announced last week his plan to gradually reopen the state’s economy after its coronavirus-caused closure. The plan’s first stage – which started Friday and will last for two weeks – permits retail stores, places of worship and youth day cares and camps to reopen to the public.

“Our stage one ‘stay-healthy’ order replaces the statewide ‘stay-home’ order,” Little said in his press conference.

Mix It Up, along with other recently reopened businesses, has been instructed to follow public health protocols, such as increased sanitation measures and personal distancing in store operations.

Retail store employees and customers are not required to wear masks under Little’s plan guidelines, but Brown said she encourages workers and shoppers who feel more comfortable with masks to wear them.

Store owners are instructed to enforce a 6-foot personal distancing policy in their establishments.

Terry Jonquet, manager of Sandpoint’s Discount Music Supply, said his employers are taking precautions to follow public health guidelines, providing a hand-washing station at the store’s entrance and sanitizing instruments touched by shoppers.

“We’re practicing safe social distancing through limiting the amount of customers in our store,” Jonquet said. “Our small store usually holds between 50 to 60 people, but we’re only letting about 10 to 15 people in at a time. So far that has worked out very well, and customers have not had a problem with that.”

Tri-State Outfitters, a Moscow outdoor store that reopened Friday, moved some of its on-sale merchandise outside for their reopening to encourage personal distancing, according to employee Jennifer Laferriere. The store’s employees are also instructed to wear masks and sanitize countertops and other surfaces between each transaction.

Some Idaho stores are attempting to minimize cash transactions by making some registers credit card-only or not accepting cash at all.

Melissa DeMotte, owner of Coeur d’Alene’s Well-Read Moose, said she is only accepting cash in one of her store’s registers to encourage patrons to use their credit cards when making purchases whenever possible.

Little said he plans to distribute $300 million in small-business grants to businesses in the state as part of the first stage of “Rebound Idaho.”

Cash grants of up to $10,000 will be available to small businesses in the state, provided they have not received a Payroll Protection Program loan in an amount greater than $10,000.

The four-stage plan to reopen Idaho’s economy is scheduled to last until June 26, with each stage lasting roughly two weeks.

The second stage is set to begin on May 16 when restaurants, gyms and other recreational facilities will open.

Stage three will follow two weeks later and allow for gatherings of up to 50 people and nonessential interstate travel to other states.

The fourth and final stage is scheduled to begin on June 13.

To advance to the next stage a set of criteria outlined on the plan’s website must be met.

Those criteria include a downward trend in, or low numbers of, patients reporting COVID-19-like illness at emergency departments over the most recent 14-day period.

The governor’s scheduled stages of reopening are contingent on this data, which will be reviewed by the Idaho Division of Public Health and the governor’s Coronavirus Working Group.

If reported case trends begin to move the wrong direction or there is evidence that one of the four stages has contributed to an increase in reported case rates, stages may have to be extended or reversed.

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