Ascension Parish gears up to reopen public buildings, businesses excited to welcome back customers
GONZALES - Businesses in Ascension Parish are gearing up for a phase one reopening, which will take place in less than 24 hours. The Chamber of Commerce said it has been in talks with many of the businesses and despite having to welcome customers back at a limited capacity, they realize it's the first step at recovery.
Parish officials announced Thursday all public buildings will reopen Monday, May 18. All workers are expected to report to work unless they have a doctor's note. Plans are in the works right now to get ready for what council meetings will look like.
"At this moment right now, we are measuring all public meeting places so we can determine the safest ways for everyone to sit and put markings there and to segregate different council members. Because if they are all seated, they will be less than six feet apart," said Martin McConnell, Ascension Parish spokesman.
From parish government to local businesses, workers are ready to get back to welcoming friendly faces again.
"Looking forward to people coming back in, eating, getting back to normal soon," Noah Fontenot with the Jambalaya Shoppe said. "We miss our customers, regulars coming in getting food, eating and enjoying the atmosphere of the shop."
From fresh south Louisiana staples to plate lunches, customers transitioned from dining in to the drive-thru during the pandemic.
"It dipped for a week-and-a-half then it picked back up, and we are kind of back to normal," Fontenot said.
Challenges continue for some restaurants though as they make their money with the tables filled to capacity. With Phase 1, only 25 percent of customers will be allowed to dine in.
"We are hoping those people are still willing to come in and not walk away because we can only allow so many in at a certain amount of time," Manager Kayla Lathers said.
For the Jambalaya Shoppe, with 70 seats, that means between 14-17 customers will be allowed in at a time.
Parish leaders and the restaurant workers are thanking customers and constituents for bearing with them during the outbreak.
"We appreciate all of our loyal customers that came through drive-thru, and we totally appreciate it and can't wait for them to come in and dine with us," Lathers said.
The Ascension Chamber of Commerce released the following statement.
"Ascension Parish businesses, especially those completely shutdown by the stay-at-home order, are excited to see their businesses reopen, even at a limited basis, because they understand it is the first step towards a full recovery. But, what is just as important to these business owners is their ability to reopen safely and in compliance with all state regulations and guidelines. At this time, more than ever, the need for clear and consistent information and directives on the Phase 1 reopening being provided to our local business communities cannot be stressed enough. A successful Phase 1 reopening will mean a healthier community and quick transition into a Phase II reopening," Barker Dirman said.