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Some Washington businesses eye slow reopening as COVID-19 restrictions lift

Some business owners were skeptical that Washington's full reopening from COVID-19 restrictions would come.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — As executive director of the Washington Center for the Performing Arts, Jill Barnes cannot wait to get a full house for a live performance again.

But don’t expect any capacity crowds in the days following the state’s June 30 reopening.

“We’re shooting for September,” said Barnes.

She said the theater lost 83% of its staff during the pandemic and restrictions on crowd sizes and indoor performances caused the theater to cancel, postpone or reschedule 170 events.

“It’s been absolutely devastating,” said Barnes.

Federal funds from the Shuttered Venue Operator Grant are expected to help pay for the rehiring, said Barnes.

“While we are excited about reopening we need the summertime to really ramp up and spend our energy on launching a fall season,” said Barnes.

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Nicole Andres, owner of Olympia’s Nicole’s Bar, cannot wait to fully open for the first time. Her business started under restrictions of take-out only last May.

“I’m excited,” said Andres. “It will be my very first time I can have 100% open doors, which makes me a little bit emotional.”

She’s eager to have customers sit at her bar, one of several restrictions being lifted June 30.

Both Andres and Barnes said they were skeptical the state would actually fully reopen on the scheduled date.

RELATED: Not all mask requirements going away when Washington reopens, health secretary says