Rock County enters phase 2 of reopening

JANESVILLE (WKOW) -- Rock County loosened its COVID-19 guidelines, moving Wednesday into phase two of its reopening plan.

Thenext stepallowed restaurants, shops and other nonessential businesses to open at 50 percent capacity, double the 25 percent from phase one. It also allows private gatherings of up to 25 people.

In downtown Janesville, most businesses are back open on reduced hours. Classy Rascals owner Jess Van Horn said she only recently was able to get back to her normal schedule.

"It has definitely been a challenge," she said.

The children's shop celebrated its first anniversary last week but Van Horn said it's already overcome years worth of obstacles at its Milwaukee St. location.

"We planned our opening around the bridge on Milwaukee St. being open," she said.

Construction delays continued to divert traffic from the downtown throughway for nearlysix more months.

"It did get to open for a little bit and then COVID 19 came around," Van Horn said.

The pandemic closed the store from March through mid-May. Van Horn said she was able to manage expenses by continuing online sales.

"We were doing doorstep deliveries, non-contact deliveries," she said.

When Rock County's reopening plan began in mid-May, Van Horn said she started seeing her sales turn around.

"Luckily we live in a community where everyone was extremely supportive and really wanted to support small businesses and that's what really got us through," she said.

She said particularly in the past week, sales have been getting stronger and she's hopeful that pattern continues after Rock County public health's announcement.

According to Nick Zupan, an epidemiologist for the county,Rock County'spercent positive of COVID-19 tests as well as the area's health care capacity showed the community was ready to move forward.

"We still are seeing new cases each day and people are being hospitalized so it's still a serious condition but you know the data is showing that we can move ahead cautiously," he said.

Van Horn said for her store, it likely won't change much in terms of day to day operations. She said her small business doesn't generally see large crowds but she believes as the rest of Milwaukee St. thrives, her business will too.

"There are some, a few restaurants and bars that haven't opened yet," she said. "It will be great to see when everyone's back open what our street will look like."

Van Horn believes that will come with community confidence, though she hopes this public health announcement will help ease more people back into their daily routines.

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