Come on in: Darien businesses welcome customers inside for Stage 2 of the state’s reopening
While things may look very different inside Pure Barre on the Post Road in Darien, the people are all still the same — and that’s what matters most, according to owner Kristin McClutchy.
“Everyone was very excited to return,” she said, adding the studio had clients on opening day who are 65 and over, and some who are pregnant.
“It went really well. All of the classes were full, with a wait list,” added McClutchy, in regard to her studio’s first day open in three months.
On Wednesday, Phase 2 of Connecticut’s reopening went into effect. Phase 2 includes indoor dining in restaurants, indoor sports club facilities and classes, and personal services such as nail salons.
One of the biggest changes to Pure Barre since March is the smaller class sizes.
“This is obviously a challenge,” McClutchy said of the five-year-old studio.
The regulations are constantly changing. Within one day of opening, there has already been a change. On Wednesday, all workout stations were required to be 12 feet apart. Effective Wednesday night, they can now be six feet apart.
This regulation only applies to studios that offer low-impact workouts, such as barre and yoga facilities.
So, while on Wednesday, the studio was able to have six clients at a time, on Thursday, it is now able to fit eight clients.
Prior to the virus, the studio would be able to hold up to 20 clients at a time.
“We had a full class for the four classes we taught yesterday,” McClutchy said Thursday.
Everyone must sign up on the website for a class. No one can sign up in the studio. When signing up for a class, clients must sign a waiver that asks if they are running a temperature.
Limited classes, equipment
The studio now offers only one kind of class — classic barre. Prior to the virus, three different kinds of classes were offered, and eight classes were available per day. Currently, it is offering four classes a day.
“As we become more comfortable with the cleaning and more efficient, ideally, I would like to allow more classes into the schedule,” she said.
There is also limited equipment.
“The other classes are more cardio and use equipment such as resistance bands,” McClutchy said. “We aren’t comfortable cleaning extra equipment at this time. Until we get new procedures in place, we are sticking with our barre classes, which only require two and three pound weights and a mat for clients to stand on.”
In addition, everyone coming in and out of the studio is required to wear a mask. This includes walking through the lobby and retail area. Once they get to their station, they can then remove their masks.
Other changes include not allowing clients to bring in their purses. “They can only bring in keys and a cell phone,” she said.
Once clients get to their spot inside, they place their personal belongings in a bin next to their mat.
The studio continues to make all its classes available on Zoom to anyone who continues to feel uncomfortable to come in person.
In regard to cleaning procedures, there are now 40 minutes in between classes to allow for the studio to clean each station.
“At every station, we are using medical grade cleaning products,” she said. “Our equipment has been cleaned twice before class and twice after class,” McClutchy said.
Also, all the equipment on the station is cleaned thoroughly. This includes weights, mats, bar, a bucket that the clients keep their items in, as well as all the mirrors, the baseboards of the studio.
Cleaning also involves wiping down any touch points on the doors and the bathroom.
Twice a day, all the weights and the bins are soaked in the cleaning solution.
“It’s a pretty intense cleaning process,” she said.
“We have been closed for three months and we are lucky to be reopened,” McClutchy said. “We aren’t allowing a lot of people in the studio, so it feels very manageable. I was definitely nervous at first, but now it feels very comfortable.”
Client Leslie Dunn of Norwalk said she’s happy to be back at Pure Barre. “Although Pure Barre has done a great job adapting during the shut down by providing virtual classes, words cannot describe how great it feels to be back in the studio with familiar faces,” she said.
Alexa McCloughan of Stamford, who went to her first in-person class this morning, said it was “like coming home.”
“Granted, there were only a few of us that could be together ‘live,’ we were joined by a number of online participants. It was a true class experience. There were new protocols in place to keep us safe but that only made my choice to come back to the studio feel right.”
“It’s such a community here. We had a few ladies after class who just started crying, they were so happy,” McClutchy said. “It was an emotional day for sure.”
Appointments, temperature checks
Posh Spa and Nail, on Boston Post Road, also opened Wednesday, at 50 percent capacity.
By Thursday, the place was very busy.
Manager Tiffany Lee said the salon is working by appointment only.
In addition, it is allowing 90 minutes of time for each manicure and pedicure service, which usually takes one hour. Also, the salom is using every other chair.
Appointments are only allowed to be made on the telephone and not inside the facility.
There is no waiting room.
Both staff and clients get a temperature check at the front door, and masks and gloves are required.
“We are very busy now,” Lee said.
Rita Daris, manager, at the Darien Diner on the Post Road, said despite opening for indoor dining on Wednesday, it wasn’t as busy inside because of the diner’s patio outside “and most customers like to sit outdoors.”
However, there were five tables of customers sitting inside on Wednesday.
Social distancing, masks
Keeping to six feet of distance between each table, the restaurant can have up to 12 tables and booths in total. Before the pandemic, the diner was able to have 20 tables.
There is no limit on the number of customers. As long as they are in the same party, “we sit them together,” she said.
“We make sure all the customers are following the rules,” she said. “Whenever someone doesn’t have a mask, we stop them at the door and give them one on the house.”
She added that people who don’t carry a mask say they they either forgot to bring one or didn’t know they had to wear one.
All customers are required to wear a mask when they are standing, walking to their table, or in the bathroom. As soon as they sit down, they can take it off, according to Daris.
The staff wears masks and gloves at all times.
There are hand sanitizers both inside and outside the diner.
Other safety measures are using paper menus and picking up cash from the tables.
“All the old staff came back,” Daris said. “It’s been working great.”