The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Looking forward to stepping out


May 10, 2020

Peter Stein

Do Drop Inn employee Hope Carvey, left, and Do Drop Manager Mikayla Mountjoy may be masked for awhile, but they hope to at least have customers dine in again.

A regular customer of The Happy Place & Courthouse Café in Portales was likely speaking for a lot of people when describing a brief respite from her quarantine.

"'I went into the out today,'" Julie Rooney, owner of the Happy Place gift shop quoted the customer as saying after getting to venture outside recently.

Most people would probably like to go "into the out" more after being quarantined for so long due to COVID-19. With talk of a gradual re-opening of New Mexico possibly beginning this Friday, there are hopes of more "out" for residents to go into, with businesses, though certainly not back to normal, eager to at least take a few steps in that direction if Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham does in fact decide to start phasing in a re-opening plan.

"I'm hoping," Rooney said. "I think from a mental perspective people really need that. ... And by all means, the vulnerable should still be sheltered."

Courthouse Café owner Mary Newell greets any news of a re-opening with guarded optimism. An email she received from the New Mexico Restaurant Association may dash the hopes of those looking toward re-opening, at least for the restaurant business.

The email sent Friday stated: "We have heard from a source at the Governor's office that restaurants will not open for dine in service on 5/15, and an alternate date is not yet announced. We have no further information or written confirmation at this time."

Even if the source is inaccurate, the Courthouse Café's reawakening will be gradual.

"When we do open up we'll be 6 feet apart with the tables," Newell said, "and 25 percent capacity."

Not normal, but certainly better than the way it was this past Friday afternoon, with chairs up, unavailable for use.

Just up Portales' Main Street at Do Drop Inn, customers have still been doing what the business' name invites them to, but for the past several weeks they've been unable to stay long after dropping in due to COVID restrictions. Though the Do Drop staff misses its regulars, they have also been discouraging them from gathering and lingering for safety reasons.

Do Drop Inn Manager Mikayla Mountjoy is of course looking forward to some kind of re-opening, but knows it won't be like waving a magic wand and turning things back to normal. Mountjoy said she expects Do Drop to initially allow half-capacity seating. "So when we do get back," she said, "we do it safely and cautiously."

Jessica Yi, area manager of Ashley Homestore, said Ashley is also planning a gradual re-opening at its Clovis and Portales locations, employing guidelines from the state and from Ashley's corporate base.

"Our plan is to open both stores on (Friday) with limited face-to-face contact," Yi said. "We're going to be doing everything we can to keep our stores safe and clean."

Yi said Ashley's hours will initially be more limited than they were pre-virus, with both stores planning to open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., "so we can kind of ease back into business."

Ashley's regular hours were previously 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday at the Clovis store, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday at the Portales store.

As of this past Friday, Lisa Holt, owner of Main Street Barber Shop in Clovis, was still pretty much in the dark about when her business will get up and running.

"I don't know when we can open," Holt said. "I don't know how we're supposed to open."

But she may be enlightened soon. Holt said Friday that she received an email from the Barbers & Cosmetologists Board out of Santa Fe, through which she has her business license, inviting her to join in an online meeting on Monday morning. She assumes there will be some information provided about re-opening.

Hope springs eternal for everyone, especially those whose businesses have suffered due to COVID-19. But a recent statement by Gov. Lujan Grisham seemed to reflect continued caution.

"I want to be crystal clear: While we're making progress, we are not yet out of the woods," the governor stated. "We will not be able to reopen everything on May 16. The virus will not be gone on May 16. The pandemic will not be over."


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