CBS 6 News: Virginia business owners weigh the realities of reopening during COVID-19

By Jake Burns
CBS 6 News, WTVR-TV, Richmond, May 5, 2020

Virginia businesses are weighing two difficult options, one day after Governor Ralph Northam extended his closure order to May 15th: open their doors with restrictions to start making money again, or remain closed to protect the health of their employees and customers.

Alex Zavaleta and his co-owner at Charm School Social Club, an ice cream shop in downtown Richmond, have been hand scooping to-go pints for weeks after having to lay off their staff in mid-March when the virus began spreading in Virginia.

“We had to keep everyone home and safe. That also meant having to basically furlough them... The second we get back up and running, your jobs are here,” he said. ...

Even if allowed to open during phase one, Zavaleta said Charm School will keep their doors closed, continuing with the to-go pints model even during the all important summer months. Ice cream shops, he said, do the majority of their sales then.

“I don’t fault a business for wanting to be open doing things. I have plenty of friends businesses who probably could safely open a little bit, but for us it just doesn’t make sense. We’ll continue doing what we’re doing now,” he said. “As a business owner making a business decision, I will air on the side of caution. So will my business partner, and we will continue doing what we’re doing. It’s just not worth risking our workers’ safety for. . . ice cream.” ...

Ward Tefft, the owner of Chop Suey Books in Carytown, said data, not politicians, would dictate when they open the store again. Chop Suey is taking phone and online book orders with pickup or delivery options.

“It’s been about three times the work, and half the sales,” Tefft said. “Personally, I do not see use opening up the store anytime soon. It would be a great risk to my coworkers; it would be a great risk to my customers.”

“I can’t put my finances or my exhaustion level ahead of someone else’s safety, and I won’t do that, whether it be my co-worker or my customer. And because we’re talking about one person’s safety, we’re talking about the whole community’s safety,” he continued. “When this finally does ease up, I’m worried that we’re going to have lost a lot of our favorite businesses here, and that’s very sad.”

Tefft urged consumers who have the means to support local restaurants and shops trying to operate under COVID-19 restrictions to keep their businesses afloat while protecting public health. ...

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Copyright 2020 Scripps Media

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