Monday, June 1, 2020
Ketchum Restaurants Move to Reopen Gingerly
Paula Perry taped off certain tables to allow six to 10 feet of distance between diners.
Friday, May 15, 2020


Paula Perry is conflicted as she and her husband Keith prepare Perry’s Restaurant to reopen for inside and patio dining for the first time since mid-March.

“I’m nervous if we don’t open, and I’m nervous if we do open,” she said. “We have such a great customer base and I just hope they won’t fall back in the old routine. I just want people to be careful of their health.”

Idaho Gov. Brad Little gave the state’s restaurants the green light to reopen on Saturday, May 16, as the state moves into the second stage of its four-stage Idaho Rebounds plan to reopen Idaho’s economy.

Scott Mason says the shutdown came at a good time if it had to come given it’s slack season.

While Idaho will not be back to normal, 95 percent of all businesses in the state will be able to open their doors this Saturday, he said. They include hair salons, gyms and other recreation facilities, and gatherings of fewer than 10 people are permitted.

Bars are still not allowed to open. But Little did move their reopening date to May 30, when Stage Three starts if all goes well, from their original reopening date of June 13 when Stage Four starts.

Cognizant that the coronavirus is still circulating, Perry Restaurant is observing practices that exceed standards set by the health department.

Perry’s employees have marked some tables closed with blue duct tape x’s, limiting seating capacity to 50 percent. They’ve blocked off self-serve soda and coffee machines. For the time being, the restaurant will use disposable plates and silverware. And condiments have been removed from the table. Customers are to ask if they need them.

Scott Mason says the shutdown came at a good time if it had to come given it’s slack season.

Customers are being asked to use the front entrance only to arrive and leave by side doors.Groups will be limited to six people.

The restaurant will have hand sanitizer, as well as sanitized wipe packets on tables. Staff will sanitize high-traffic public areas, including door knobs, chair backs and bathroom fixtures every 30 to 60 minutes. They will sanitize tables after every guest leaves. And they will sanitize their hands after handling dirty dishes and glasses.

“Customers can help us by calling ahead to order and pay over the phone to cut down on our having to handle money or credit cards. That will also avoid lines at the counters,” said Paula Perry. “Curbside delivery has worked well during this time, and we will still be happy to deliver food curbside to those who want to avoid coming in.”

While Perry’s will reopen on Saturday, Scott and Anne Mason at the Ketchum Grill have elected to wait at least one more week and maybe even until June 1 to reopen their restaurants.

Masked employees have kept fairly busy with curbside pickups. Now they wait to see how many of the dine-in patrons return.

“We just weren’t sure that people were ready to come back out yet,” said Scott Mason. “We thought we’d wait and let other restaurants experiment. We thought we’d wait and see what their experience is.”

The governor said during a press conference Thursday afternoon that efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus in Idaho are working. But he reminded Idahoans not to relax when it comes to physical distancing and other measures, noting that the pandemic could have a resurgence this summer or fall.

“If we continue to be diligent about washing our hands, limiting exposure to others and wearing face masks, we control the outcome. We control our ability to make consumers and employees confident about getting back to work and visiting places of business,” he said.

Little also said that the state will provide businesses with a 30-day supply of personal protective equipment, including masks, and gloves to protect workers, if requested. To apply, go to

And Ketchum Mayor Neil Bradshaw said his city is proposing eliminating parking spots outside restaurants to provide more space for outdoor dining.

"That's a very European model," noted Mason. "The Europeans are pushing that right now. I'm not sure how it would work here because we don't have a city center. But it could work."

Little based his decision to move to Stage Two based on positive trends.

Currently, the state is seeing an average of 9 emergency visits a day versus 14 in the last two weeks of April. It has an average of 0.6 emergency admissions a day versus 1.1 in April. It’s averaged 23.5 new cases of coronavirus a day during the first two weeks of May versus 29.1 new cases per day during the last two weeks of April.

An average of two health care workers are now testing positive each day, versus 4.79 health care workers testing positive per day in April.

Blaine County is also trending well. Nine residents tested positive for coronavirus during the last two weeks for an average of .6 per day. During the week between April 24 and April 30, 13 residents tested positive--an average of nearly one new case per day.

Idaho entered Stage One of its reopening plan on April 30, allowing places of worship and child care facilities to reopen. Stage Two will run from May 16 to May 29. But businesses could be closed down again if the number of coronavirus cases and hospital admissions start trending in the wrong direction.

During Stage Two, travel remains limited to essential travel and people coming into the state from hot spots, or places with community spread, are required to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Stage Three, from May 30 to June 12, permits gatherings of 10 to 50 people as long as physical distancing and other precautionary measures are taken.

Stage Four, set to begin June 13 if all goes well, would see gatherings of more than 50 people with precautions, the reopening of theaters and sports arenas and visits to retirement centers.

State Epidemiologist Christine Hahn said her biggest fear is that some Idahoans will think, “Oh, It’s over.”

“We don’t think that’s the case,” she said. “We don’t know that we’re going to be living back to normal for a long time.”

Paula Perry agreed that the future is unknowable at this point:

“We may never go back to the way things were. We just don’t know at this point. We’re on this big adventure together.”



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