ST. LOUIS — Some businesses in St. Louis and St. Louis County welcomed customers back inside their stores for the first time in nearly two months Monday.
The city and county eased up on restrictions that were put in place on March 20 to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. With the curve flattening and key data trends decreasing, local leaders announced places like restaurants, bars, salons and malls could open their doors to customers again beginning Monday, May 18.
Reopening doesn't mean a return to the way things were, though.
Diners eating in at restaurants will notice Plexiglas barriers, no more elbow-to-elbow seating at community tables, more reservation-only systems and fewer waiting areas.
The booths at Charlie Gitto's on The Hill all have see-through barriers between the booths and in front of the hostess stand.
However, many restaurants are sticking to curbside, carryout and delivery for now.
The reopening of hair salons was a welcome sight for many residents in the city and county who've gone without hair cuts, colors and trims — or at-home versions — during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Inside Dominic Michael Salon in Clayton, customers and employees all wore masks to protect themselves and others. Plastic barriers separated hair washing stations and several spots that would normally be used by customers were left empty to accommodate social distancing standards.
Barbershops, nail salons, tanning salons, massage therapists and body art professionals were also allowed to reopen beginning Monday. Along the same lines, pet grooming facilities could reopen as well.
Malls also welcomed shoppers back inside. Even though the malls are open, not all stores inside have chosen to reopen.
The Footaction store at the Galleria Mall was one of the businesses that welcomed back customers Monday morning. Customers formed a line outside the store waiting for their turn to go inside.
While stores, restaurants and other businesses can reopen, there are still limits on how many people can be inside depending on the size of the building and maximum capacity.
Another sign of the St. Louis area returning to normal was the reopening of several county parks that have been closed to visitors.
At one time, all St. Louis County parks were closed by County Executive Sam Page due to the coronavirus. Several parks reopened a couple of weeks ago. The remaining 21, including Creve Coeur Lake pictured below, opened on Monday.
However, restrooms, indoor facilities, sports courts, shelters, playgrounds and skate parks all remain closed at city and county parks.
You can see more photos from inside businesses as they reopened Monday in the photo gallery below.
Photos: A look inside businesses as they reopen in St. Louis, St. Louis County
And as a note, for the safety of our employees and to follow social distancing standards, 5 On Your Side continues to conduct interviews and gather video in outside locations. The photos included in this story were taken by a pool photographer and used with permission.