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Dealing with stresses associated with loosening of COVID-19 restrictions

As more businesses reopen, COVID-19 stresses grow
Posted at 6:53 PM, Jun 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-01 19:53:23-04

OMAHA, Neb. — More restrictions are loosened Monday in a number of counties in Nebraska as part of Governor Ricketts' second phase of re-opening. Eighty-nine counties have the green light to reopen bars and restart some low to intermediate-contact sports. These however can cause some anxiety for employees and customers as crowds grow during a pandemic.

"We're not making a ton of money but we are paying the bills. I would say our revenue is probably a little less than half of what it was before," general manager of Burrito Envy & Tequila Bar Justin Frieze said.

The COVID-19 restrictions have not been kind to Frieze and his business financially, but his hopes are high as more restrictions are loosened Monday.

"What we hope for is a little more foot traffic down in Benson because that's what we survive on," Frieze said.

As tough as it has been for businesses, they are now expecting more customers. The customers in turn are expecting larger crowds. So how do we deal with all of that mentally, as for months now crowds have been discouraged and frowned upon?

"It's equally important to think about the psychological well-being as well because folks have been working remotely for awhile and then coming back to the office of course is going to start a new host of stressors," University of Nebrasksa Omaha associate counseling professor Abby Bjornsen-Ramig said.

Experts say the way to deal with looser restrictions for employees is to be transparent and talk to your employer if you don't feel safe.

"Trying to encourage employers to ease uncertainty by giving employees as much control and decision making power when and where they can have it as part of that process would be really helpful," Bjornsen-Ramig said.

It's the responsibility of the business to protect the health of customers and staff.

"Set a tone that emphasizes concern not only for employee well-being but for customer well-being as well and offering compassion and honesty and openness. Really just being present and listening to the concerns that people have so they feel heard," Bjornsen-Ramig added.

Although the restrictions have loosened and more places are able to reopen, businesses have to do it in phases and have to do it safely.

While some areas are able to reopen, places like gyms, salons and tattoo parlors, that were already open, are now able to expand. Starting Monday, those businesses can allow 25 people, not including staff, to gather instead of the previous order of 10. The six feet rule still applies and masks are encouraged.