CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio — Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Walter and several business owners celebrated the lifting of COVID-19 health orders in Ohio with a ceremonial ribbon cutting near the Portage Trail Bridge on Wednesday morning.
A banner with the words "CUYAHOGA FALLS OPEN FOR BUSINESS" was hung on the fencing of the bridge.
"Throughout the pandemic, our businesses made quick and innovative pivots to continue services to all of our residents and visitors, and because of their ingenuity, were able to keep their businesses thriving," said Walters.
Madalyn King, a cosmetologist at Vivo Beauty Bar, said work felt different as clients received hair highlights and pedicures.
For the first time in many months, gone were the masks, required social distancing, and plastic barriers around shampoo bowls.
"It's a good weird. I kept saying, 'Oh my Gosh, I can't believe it.' It's definitely a good thing. It's like a breath of fresh air," King said.
King said the salon shut down for nine weeks when the pandemic first invaded Northeast Ohio in 2020. She received unemployment, but some of her co-workers struggled to get it.
"You have consistent income and tips and stuff like that. You're not making any of that. There's no revenue, so it was definitely hard," she said.
Although things felt more like business as usual, King recognized that some people— vaccinated or not— may not be quite ready for a return to normal yet.
"If my client is more comfortable with me wearing a mask, I will wear one. We just kind of leave it up to what our clients are more comfortable with."
John and Kim Nader opened Kneaded Breads and Confections— known for its variety of breads and cinnamon rolls— in March.
Starting a business during a pandemic meant the small business had to meet rising challenges.
"The masks were definitely a challenge, just people being worried about coming in and being in here with other people," John said.
Still, he said business has been good the past few months and expects things will only get better from here.
"It feels like a huge weight has been lifted. I, for one, hated the lock downs, not being able to just live normally," he said. "I'm just ready to start my normal life again."