On June 10, Minnesota will move into “Phase III” of its Stay Safe plan that will allow bars, restaurants and gyms to reopen for indoor service, but, for one East Grand Forks fitness studio, the move comes too late and the rules allow for too little.
The owners of Ganesha Yoga in downtown East Grand Forks have decided to close their shop permanently at the end of June. The studio, hard-hit financially by the pandemic, has been closed since March 17. With the lease coming up for renewal in July, the owners made the decision to close out of concern about making future payments. Uncertainty about how long they would need to operate at the state’s mandated 25% capacity for fitness centers and how the guidelines could change if coronavirus numbers increase also played into the decision.
“It would be a lot on the three of us owners to try keep it alive,” said co-owner Cassie Thompson. “With the uncertainty -- we’ve been hearing we might go through this again this fall -- to sign and commit ourselves to another year or two lease was a big commitment for us.”
Thompson, who owns the studio along with Danielle Gregoire and Katie Thorson, told the Herald they will hold pop-up lessons at the studio beginning on Wednesday, to allow students to use up passes they purchased for lessons, as well as say goodbye.
“We’ve had quite a few regular students over the years,” Thompson said.
The closure of the yoga studio comes at a time when bars and restaurants are getting ready to let customers come back for dine-in service, though at 50% capacity, or up to 250 people for indoor and outdoor service. Tables need to have six feet of space between them, and workers are required to wear masks -- and encourage guests to do so as well. Table service is limited to four people per table, though six members of the same family can sit together. Customers will need to make reservations, as walk-ins are not allowed.
“I think everybody on this side (of the river) is happy about that decision,” said Marc Leslie, general manager of Sickies Garage in East Grand Forks, about the state’s move to Phase III.
Sherry Aarnes, who owns the long-running East Grand Forks institution Mike’s Pizza, said her staff is excited to reopen dine-in service and added she has worked hard to keep her employees working and her business open. The sales generated by takeout and outdoor seating, which began on June 1 in Minnesota, don’t make up for dine-in customers, Aarnes said, which makes the long-term business situation untenable.
“If it would have lasted any longer, we would be rethinking things for sure,” Aarnes said.
Under the June 10 guidelines, fitness centers can reopen at 25%, and people and exercise equipment need to be kept six feet apart. Masks are encouraged, and group classes can only be offered if there is adequate spacing between people.
Movie theaters also can reopen at 25% capacity, up to 250 people. Hair salons, barber shops and tattoo shops must adhere to the spacing guidelines, and all services must be by appointment only. Capacity is limited to 50%, and workers and clients are required to wear masks. When the client can’t wear a mask, the worker needs to add a face shield.