Phase 2 businesses working frantically to prepare for reopening

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (WTVD) -- Not long after the National Hockey League shut down its season, local skating rinks were also closed by the state along with many other businesses. Now, those ice rinks are hoping to reopen in Phase 2 of the state pandemic program.

If benchmarks are on track, that could happen as soon as next Friday.


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"The assumption that we have is that people are itching to get back to the ice," Thomas Whitmeyer-Weathers told ABC11.

Whitmeyer-Weathers is the youth hockey director for Polar Ice House which runs five rinks in Wake County.

Today, the company's rink in Wake Forest was eerily quiet. It's been that way for nearly two months.

But during that time, those who run the Wake County rinks have had an eye on reopening, according to Whitmeyer-Weathers.

"It's been a constant discussion since the stay-at-home order was put into place. So we've been working hard. We want to be able to provide this service to our customers. We're excited too. We're really excited to open back up."


Whitmeyer-Weathers says youth hockey and figure skating groups are ready to get back in action but the rinks will only reopen at a lower capacity so there will be no open-skates.
Still, private groups can rent the rink as long as they follow social distancing guidelines.

"That way it's a little bit more controlled. Once we start to get into Phase 3 we will start to reconsider what we can do in regards to allowing the regular public to walk in," Whitmeyer-Weathers said adding that Polar Ice House will also be giving health screening to employees, limiting entrances and exits to the rinks, and putting other safety measures in place.

But the most important will be ensuring the public that facilities are germ-free.

"Cleanliness is the biggest thing, making sure that when people come in they see that it's clean," he said, "They smell that it's clean."

Today, they invited Raleigh sanitizing company Bio-One in for a demonstration of its cleaning procedures.


Bio-One's owner Rick Jacobs says his company was built for the kind of work the pandemic is bringing.
"We have equipment that can do very large areas and then we have very fine equipment that we use a lot if there are computers, monitors, telephones," Jacobs said.

While Polar Ice House has struggled like other businesses in the pandemic - Bio-One has flourished.

The company that once had four employees now has 25 and most of the new hires are people who lost their jobs during the pandemic.

"It's made us feel very humble and very happy," he said.

While Jacobs hopes to get the Polar Ice House contract and others as well, he says he will still welcome an end to the pandemic even if it costs him business.
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