TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Salons, barber shops, and massage and tattoo parlors in New Jersey reopened Monday from their COVID-19 pause.
Wayne Downing is a barber and owner of the Success Salon in Trenton, which has been shuttered since March. He said the pause was hard financially and mentally, but Monday felt like a new beginning.
“It's like the first day of school,” Downing said.
Business was “cautiously slow” to start, he said, but he was hopeful once clients got comfortable with wearing masks and making appointments they'd return in greater numbers. During a roughly 20-minute interview, several people in cars drove by the shop and stopped to ask about getting cuts.
Rohan White, a barber at Downing's shop, said he was developing a new method for shaving men so they could keep their masks mostly on. White said he would remove part of the mask, shave, then return it.
“I'm an authentic barber. I pay attention to my work. I love my work,” he said. “This work is an art."
Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy also announced on Monday that Atlantic City's casinos would be cleared to reopen on July 2 at 25% capacity. The governor also said that indoor dining would resume the same day, also at 25% capacity.
They're the latest businesses authorized to open shop since the outbreak hit the state in early March. Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy's executive order requires that masks be worn inside these businesses and for service to be by appointment only.
Murphy reported New Jersey has had about 360 new positive cases for a total of about 169,000 positive cases. The death toll climbed by 27 to 12,895. It's among the hardest-hit states in the country, but the rate of the virus' spread and the number of people being hospitalized have been falling for weeks.
Murphy has moved the state into Stage 2 of three. He said Monday that the plans to move to Stage 3 could be announced soon.
Despite the plans to move forward with reopening, Murphy said he'd seen troubling videos over the weekend of people gathering at the shore and at bars without social distancing or masks.
“We don't want to look like the other states that have gone through hell and are now going back through hell,” he said, a reference to some states that have seen their COVID-19 cases climb recently.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness or death.