Not all Ralston businesses, restaurants and churches are responding the same way to the relaxed social distancing rules that went into effect Monday as Gov. Pete Ricketts and health officials begin a phased approach to life returning to normal amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The new directed health measures and the updated guidelines, which Ricketts announced April 24, affected houses of worship, restaurants and businesses like salons and tattoo parlors.
Churches, synagogues and mosques will have to ensure 6 feet of separation between household units and items could not be passed among worshippers.
Trinity United Methodist Church pastor Tessa Zehring said the church would follow the guidelines issued by Ruben Saenz Jr., the United Methodist Church bishop overseeing Nebraska and Kansas.
Those guidelines allowed Methodist churches with average attendance under 50 people to meet, but Trinity United has a larger congregation than that and Saenz encouraged churches to continue to hold services online. Trinity United’s services will be held online this Sunday and possibly May 17, Zehring said.
Messiah Lutheran Church pastor Greg Berger said the church would not open for worship right away for safety as well as logistical concerns.
Church leadership will meet in the middle of the month and make more decisions at that time, he said.
“We feel it’s best for our people,” not to meet at this time, Berger said.
Ralston United Church of Christ will not open for regular services until at least the end of June, said pastor Lynette Janssen, and St. Gerald Catholic Church will also not have in-person Mass gatherings.
Salons, barber shops, massage therapy services and tattoo studios are subject to 10-person gathering limits and require both workers and patrons to wear masks.
Rawhide Tattoo, located in downtown Ralston, said on its Facebook page it would not open right away on Monday but was considering the middle of the month to open “with very minimal clients” until June 1 and then increase flows slightly.
“As much as we want to get back to tattooing, we also want to be prepared,” the statement read. “We are currently revising new operation procedures to implement the best safety measures in re-opening.”
Eye Candy Tattoo and Body Art, near 72nd and Harrison streets, said on its Facebook page it would be open but some of its artists “decided to take a little more time to see where this thing goes” and they would not be returning Monday.
The Facebook post also said patrons would be required to wash their hands immediately, complete a questionnaire about recent travel and potential symptoms and no one could accompany those with an appointment, and no children would be allowed.
Restaurants will be allowed to serve dine-in customers if they limit seating to 50% of the rated maximum occupancy, if parties are seated at least 6 feet apart and are limited to six people — groups larger than six must be seated at separate tables — and patrons may only consume alcohol if eating a meal. Restaurant staff must serve food directly to customers so self-serve buffets and salad bars are prohibited.
Maria’s Mexican Restaurant owner Michael Sanchez, whose restaurant is in downtown Ralston, said in an email, “We are planning to stay the course with Carry Out/Curbside until we feel the circumstances are safe for our staff, friends and family members. The situation will be evaluated on an ongoing basis. Our followers should look to our Facebook and Instagram accounts for announcements on changes.”
Ralston Keno will open its dining room in accordance with the new measures, said Michelle Bliss, the restaurant’s personnel manager.
The restaurant had been selling keno tickets to go, and Bliss said there would be 16 tables in the restaurant when it opened and the occupancy would be much lower than 50%.