Northwest Lower Michigan’s economy is beginning to reopen.

Habitat ReStore in Traverse City unlocked its doors on May 13.

Stormcloud Brewing, after closing for four weeks, on Saturday reopened and began offering a new service: beer delivery within a 10-mile radius of Frankfort.

Crystal Mountain plans to reopen lodging on May 29.

Following the lead of an Owosso barber who had a very public discussion with state authorities after he began accepting customers in defiance of one of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders, a Cadillac barbershop began cutting hair last week.

Rumors have been flying about other businesses reopening, whether or not they are legally allowed to by coronavirus-related measures.

Several restaurants across the region that had closed (some remained open to sell take-out for the duration) restarted take-out service in recent days to recapture at least a small revenue stream.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday announced that restaurant dining rooms in northern Michigan will be allowed to reopen — at half their pre-virus seating capacity — at noon on Friday, just in time for Memorial Day weekend. Other aspects of the executive order are set to expire May 28.

The debate will continue: When will it be safe to socialize? How long will masks be recommended? How long will hugs and handshakes be a bad idea?

We may never have clear answers to any of those questions, even after the dust has cleared. The path forward is murky. Politicians and citizens alike are debating health, business, livelihood and bottom line.

The situation is complicated by the fact that some businesses, large and small, are failing.

J.C. Penney on Friday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. J. Crew, Stage and Neiman Marcus filed for Chapter 11 earlier in the pandemic.

Some large retail chains — pressured by consumers’ shift toward online purchases, primarily through Amazon — disappeared before COVID-19 became news. Barneys New York closed early in 2020. Bon Ton Stores, which operated the Younker’s store in Cherryland Center, went out of business in 2018. The Kmart and Sears chains have been contracting for years; both are owned by Sears Holdings, which filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in 2018.

The pandemic — and related measures meant to control virus spread — is pushing struggling retail chains to the brink.

Brick-and-mortar stores across the nation are brainstorming how to best operate in this era of social distancing.

Traverse City officials are talking about the possibility of converting two blocks of downtown Front Street into a pedestrian-only area, to allow easier social distancing among shoppers.

All of us are anxious to get things moving again. At the same time, we remain anxious about our own health and that of our neighbors.

The pandemic shocked us all — as humans, parents, children of elderly parents, consumers, employees, employers, entrepreneurs. Where we go from here remains a mystery.

One certainty is that the retail industry is in flux. It is changing with dizzying speed in a chaotic atmosphere. Eventually, though, the fog will ease and the way forward will become clear.

A local resale store, a brewery and a resort began feeling their way forward this month, taking their first steps away from the pandemic business doldrums. Other businesses will follow as reopenings accelerate locally and nationally. All of them need to adapt to the new reality.

Medical experts and elected officials continue to fret about the correct time to ease virus-control measures. Everyone is debating when doing so will be safe, how to monitor progress, and how long social distancing and personal protection rules should remain in force.

Managers and entrepreneurs are just anxious to unlock the doors and get back to business.