“We’re all in this together,” has been one of the main responses by local businesspeople in the wake of the announcement of new restrictions by Virginia’s governor this week.
Governor Ralph Northam’s Executive Order 53 states that certain nonessential businesses in Virginia will close for the next 30 days at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, leaving many business owners not liking the reality, but saying they understand the need to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“I fully understand it,” said Tammy Jenkins-Pritt, owner of Tammy’s Family Hair Studio, which closed Tuesday evening.
“I’ve got a granddaughter with asthma and a husband who is not young,” Jenkins-Pritt said. “I would never forgive myself if I passed something on to one of them.
“Most of my people are older, and they’re scared to be out around groups of people right now,” she said.
Jenkins-Pritt said business at the hair studio on the south side of town has been slow ever since the virus outbreak began to get national attention a few weeks ago.
“I do have a problem with them closing all of us, but leaving the liquor stores open, though,” Jenkins-Pritt said.
Doris Zeitz, a self-employed stylist who works at Scarlett & Sage Hair Salon on Sperryville Pike, said she willl be using the time off to continue her community efforts with Z’s Flamingoes, a community service group she began several years ago, and to work on housecleaning.
“I’ll be catching up on my Bible, doing crossword puzzles, cleaning my house and donating to the Salvation Army,” Zeitz said.
“I don’t like it, of course, but I know it has to be in order to protect our citizens,” Zeitz said of the shutdown.
In addition to closing hair salons, barber shops, tattoo parlors, fitness centers and other indoor recreational facilities, the latest decree by the governor will further impact the local restaurant industry, which had already been limited to serving no more than nine people at a time.
The nine-people limit severely reduced local eateries’ abilities to serve customers and closed many other types of businesses, including the local movie theater, museum, bowling alley and skating rink.
While some restaurants downtown have been and will continue to offer curbside, delivery and to-go service, owner Andrew Ferlazzo of Grass Rootes on East Davis Street said he would shut down at Midnight Tuesday evening, presumably for the 30-day period specified by the governor.
“It depends on who you listen to,” Ferlazzo said. “The governor says 30-days; the president says the first week of April.”
Ferlazzo said the restaurants downtown have been pulling together over the past few weeks, visiting each other’s establishments to eat and enjoying the “brotherhood and sisterhood” the businesses share.
“We’re all in the same boat,” he said. “We’re pretty tight down here; we’ve been feeding our colleagues and taking food to the hospital. There’s no way we can make enough to cover our operating expenses.”
Ferlazzo said he has not let any employees go during the coronavirus outbreak, and that he plans to continue making payroll throughout the closure, possibly with help from the federal government’s pending assistance legislation.
“It’s tough to know what to do next. All I’ve heard so far is, ‘You’re shutting down,’” Ferlazzo said.
All anyone can do right now is watch and wait to see what happens, he said.
“The general public pretty much has been staying away since this all started,” he said. ”But, at the same time, they have been very supportive in their calls and messages to us.”
Ferlazzo said customers have been fairly understanding, and most groups, wedding parties and corporate events have rescheduled their events for later in the year.
David Foster of Mountain Run Winery, which is located in the county on Mountain Run Lake Road, said winter is already the business’ slowest time of year.
“We operate at a loss up until spring arrives,” Foster said. “We are offering curbside pickup during our normal hours, and customers can call, text, email or Facebook-message us to let us know they are coming.”
Foster said he hopes the community will continue to be supportive while the shut down lasts.
“All Virginia wineries can no longer sell wine for onsite consumption,” Foster said. “We need the support of our local community to help us cover the costs or our spring pruning and spraying and to continue to be able to hire local workers to help with vineyard and property maintenance.”