CHICAGO (CBS) — While COVID-19 cases are dropping and restaurants and business are reopening, one thing remains the same — closed dressing rooms.
Safety guidelines are open for interpretation, and stores are deciding for themselves.
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At West Town’s Squasht Boutique, shoppers will find clothing from Lesley Timpe and other designers who take pride in handmade pieces. There is also an open dressing room to try everything on, which may feel like a rarity these days.
“We kind of just keep it one person at a time in the fitting room,” said Timpe.
Timpe has taken several steps to make shopping at Squasht safe but couldn’t find a hard and fast rule from the CDC on whether she should close the rooms to customers. CBS 2 could not find one either, so we looked local.
The City of Chicago is in Phase 4, and in its Retail Guidance, it says anyone using a dressing room should stay six feet apart and keep a mask on. But there’s no language that says whether those rooms should or should not be open.
“We felt that our fitting room had enough space and its open air, and it seemed not terribly risky to keep it open,” said Timpe.
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The State’s ‘Restore Illinois’ guidelines are also vague, saying fitting room should be disinfected or they should remain closed. It seems the decision comes down to the retailers themselves. We’ve learned rooms are open in most Old Navy stores. Macy’s says individual properties can adjust their fitting room policies. On State Street, they’re only available through a personal stylist. Target says it is keeping rooms closed for the time being and has no firm date to reopen.
Still, the real question is whether they pose a risk.
“Transmission on cloth and surfaces for covid is really not the main driver for what’s going on,” said Dr. Allison Bartlett with the University of Chicago.
Bartlett studies infectious disease in children. She said with what we know now about COVID-19’s airborne spread, keeping people separated and masked makes the threat low.
“All of those things are being followed, then I think that there’s really no reason not to allow these rooms to be open,” she said.
Timpe hopes that information helps bring back any timid shoppers.
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“Yes, we have already been seeing an uptick in traffic just for spring, and it’s looking like it’s going to be a good one,” she said.