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Boise says it intends to mostly follow state’s reopening plan. Yes, that includes salons

The City of Boise said it will follow the State of Idaho’s phased reopening plan unless local conditions mean it needs to change.

The guidance clarifies and modifies some of the communication from the city in recent weeks.

The city now says it will align with the state’s plans for different business types reopening. That means hair salons, restaurants and bars, and restaurants would open on Saturday if Gov. Brad Little moves the state to the next phase.

Boise Mayor Lauren McLean said she thinks the state – and city – will progress to stage two.

“I am cautiously optimistic that we will be able to move onto stage two,” McLean said. “Two weeks ago no one knew how it would turn out. Most people are following the requests we made, and we appreciate that.”

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Yes, salons can open

The city earlier provided a statement from McLean to other media outlets late last week saying “salons, barbershops, and tattoo parlors, will be able to open by June 1, possibly sooner, if we are able to safely move to the state’s second stage.” 

Now City of Boise Communications Director Karen Boe tells BoiseDev the city intends to move in lockstep with the state. That mean means if Little gives the OK on salons and other similar businesses in stage two this Saturday as planned, so will the city.

“If the state moves to stage two, we will allow salons to open,” City of Boise Communications Director Karen Boe told BoiseDev. “The governor is suggesting safety protocols at salons, (McLean) may instead require those protocols. We want these salons to open and everybody to get back to business – but safely.”

Boe said the only differences moving forward will impact the Boise Airport – which the city has limited only to travellers and employees – and to encourage social distancing across where feasible.

The city earlier said it would follow a similar plan to the state, but left dates off the plan unlike the state.

During a council meeting Tuesday, McLean acknowledged confusion in the city.

“I agree that there was a lot of confusion around how we would progress,” McLean said. “Just to make it clear, we will be sticking with the same dates (as the state). While some people believe (the state’s indication) things would open on the 16th was a promise, it wasn’t. We will move on if the Central District Health Department and the state say we can move on locally.”

Council’s criticism

The Boise City Council during a Tuesday virtual meeting.

The confusion led to several direct moments during the council meeting.

“All due respect I don’t think it’s clear to anybody that we would be moving with the state,” Council Pro Tem Holli Woodings said, addressing McLean. “I think there was a lot of communications coming out of the city that would cause people to believe we were on a totally different timeline and that’s where the confusion came from. I don’t know what the intention was originally with the order, but that’s not how it was communicated to the community. I appreciated all the communications you provided today.”

Councilmember Patrick Bageant suggested the confusion added to an already challenging time for some business owners.

“The amount of confusion over what this order meant and when it would expire and what it meant isn’t anyone’s fault,” council member Patrick Bageant said, “But it was pretty painful for business owners and those of us on the council and in the mayor’s office receiving these communications. It was a difficult last ten days or so.”

“I’ve felt from the beginning it was your intent to move with the state if we could at all possibly do that if the data showed that was the right thing to do,” Council President Elaine Clegg said to McLean. “Like all council members, it wasn’t clear to me as it was written.”

Clegg and Bageant asked to provide additional input on the orders in the future. They conceded that the compressed timeline from Little’s order being issued for each stage and the start of that phase going into effect caused challenges. Clegg suggested the city prepare portions of the order for each stage in advance, then adjust once guidance from Little is issued.

“I’m always open to input,” McLean told the council. “My expectation is unless something changes locally, now that the governor has produced protocols for businesses, we intend to incorporate that.”

Little set a news conference for 1 p.m. Thursday.

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