LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - On Monday, the sounds of taekwondo once again filled the air at Hwang’s Martial Arts. Those sounds have been missing in owner Mimi Hwang’s facility for 11 weeks.
“It is amazing to see them,” Hwang said.
Her business has been closed since March 17, one week before Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear closed all non-essential businesses at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Today, all three of Hwang’s Louisville locations, along with other low-contact youth sports facilities, reopened to the public under new guidelines. Students were positioned with more space between them, masks were mandatory and hand sanitizer was required.
“In no way did we think that it was going to get to this at all," Hwang said. "So we really had to think creatively outside of the box and really make some tough decisions and transitions to get to where we are over the last 11 weeks.”
From the martial arts mat to the soccer pitch, the first day back in business was different at the Mockingbird Valley Sports Complex too. The number of athletes allowed in each training session was limited to eight. Each athlete was dedicated to their own ‘box,’ separated by cones from other players. Inter-person interaction was not allowed either. Finally, coaches sprayed the soccer balls with disinfectant after each 45-minute session.
Executive Director Corey Johnson said the new guidelines makes the 60,000 square foot facility seem empty.
“It’s discouraging, but we’ll be back one day and we’ll be able get these kids back on their track to play soccer,” Johnson said.
These two facilities are among dozens of others that can finally reopen in Kentucky on Monday. Many businesses throughout the state have struggled financially over the past three months. Owners are still getting used to the new guidelines and what the world’s new normal may be.
That said, both Johnson and Hwang told WAVE 3 News they see Monday as a step in the right direction.
“The biggest thing for us is to be able to connect with our community again," Hwang said. “Teaching taekwondo is something that we’re good at. We love doing it. It’s our passion. But kind of getting back to the swing of things, we’re making sure we’re practicing safety protocols.”
“It’s a hope for [parents], something to look forward finally to get the kids out of the house, to have them being active and doing something," Johnson said. "It’s not ideal. We’re not to where we can play yet, but it’s something.”
For more information on what else has reopened, click here.