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Portland businesses disappointed by Gov. Brown's pause on reopening

Many gyms and fitness studios, salons, restaurants and bars spent all week preparing to open their doors this weekend or next week. Now, they're left waiting again.

PORTLAND, Ore — The latest news about the delay on Multnomah County's Phase One application hit businesses hard. 

Many local businesses spent all week preparing to open their doors Friday, or at some point in the next week.

They deep-cleaned, re-configured layouts and brought back staff; fitness studios had members booked into classes, hair stylists got their stations and products ready and several restaurants re-stocked food and supplies.

Now, although they may not be surprised about the pause in Multnomah County's application, people are left deflated and disheartened.

“Our rents are high and our income is zero. So the devastation is huge,” Glow Boutique Salon owner Lisa White said. “It was like a blow. Definitely a gut-wrenching punch.”

She speaks for so many Portland business owners who were devastated when they learned, last minute, they couldn't reopen Friday.

White bought Glow Boutique Salon a month before the shutdown. After pouring her heart and soul into the remodel for the past few months, she had her stylists, who've been living on very little, come in to finally prep their stations this week.

“Things are done, stylists are coming in to try to get their stuff ready, to get everything ready! And after 7 p.m. we hear that's not happening,” White said. “The lack of communication to this whole thing, the lack of visibility to the process, to me, is not acceptable on any level.”

Inside the salon, nurse practitioner Erin Coggan rents a space for her business Face by Erin, a new aesthetics beauty bar. She was there cleaning into the night because Friday would have been her grand opening; that date is now TBA.

"At least [Gov. Brown] put a pause and not completely stopped it,” Coggan said. “We're OK, we just want to be safe. But we also we need to open. We have to pay our bills.”

RELATED: 'We were ready': Multnomah County health director responds to Phase 1 delay

Orangetheory Fitness Slabtown coaches and staff held a meeting Wednesday and deep-cleaned every nook and cranny in preparation for a Monday opening.

Members had booked classes through next week. But under Phase One of the governor’s reopening framework, gyms and fitness studios sit in the same, unmoving boat in Multnomah County.

"It was disheartening because we want to enrich people's lives and, selfishly, the members here enrich my life, they enrich the coaches’ lives, the staff’s lives,” Orangetheory Fitness Slabtown head coach Ryan Tong said. “But, ultimately, we're a business about more life and health and wellness. So it's a tough pill to swallow. But an extra week might buy a friend or family or loved one extra weeks in their life.”

With spaced out tables, Olympia Provisions on SE Division was one of many restaurants that planned to reopen this weekend, while Toro Bravo Inc. did not plan on opening up any their ten restaurants.

But Toro Bravo Inc. Co-owner Renee Gorham says she heard from many devastated restaurant owners and workers who were planning to open this weekend.

“I hate to say it but I was not at all surprised. The safety of the public and the community is the number one priority,” Gorham said, “I totally understand the decision to pause. I was extremely disappointed they waited till the Eleventh Hour."

Gorham says they feel lucky because restaurants that had their sights set on reopening this weekend invested so much time and money into it.

"The amount of work and inventory and food that needs to be purchased and back bars need to be restocked. There’s about three days of prep that needs to happen before we can reopen.”

Restaurants and bars have much more weighing on them now as they try to balance workers' comfort levels in coming back and guests' safety.

The industry makes up the fabric of Portland but with each passing day that Multnomah County remains the only county still shuttered they take yet another blow and the fabric becomes undone.

“It feels like purgatory and it kind of feels like the restaurant apocalypse right now,” Gorham added. “It feels a little bit like a slap in the face to not be told within at least a 48-hour notice. So I really hope - and i'm asking you, Governor Brown - to please communicate. Our business community is suffering, we need more notice, we need information. We're all just flying blind right now.”

Even if the county got the green light for phase one, many companies like Toro Bravo Inc. still planned to hold off for another week or two because they didn't feel ready.

RELATED: Oregon COVID-19 updates June 12: 142 new cases and 2 more deaths

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