By Kara Angeli, Contributor, All About Arizona News
Local businesses around the Valley are remaining optimistic while safety protocols to contain COVID-19 keep changing the functions of their businesses.
Arizona’s city mayors have put in place various safety measures in the face of the increase in COVID cases last week – and now Governor Doug Ducey has re-issued a 30-day lockdown for many businesses, including bars, gyms, movie theaters and tubing rental operations. Wearing masks in public is also a requirement in Phoenix, Chandler, Gilbert, Tempe, and multiple other Arizona cities.
With many reviews and activists opposing the masks, the question is, can local businesses still survive economically?
A recent MetLife study reported that 50% of local businesses remain hopeful that their operations will survive during the pandemic. Some 12% of businesses surveyed reported that they are still requiring their workers to “work from home” until it is 100% safe.
Employees from AMC Movie Theatres have reported concerns about going back to work so soon without masks – a possibility that also concerns many customers. AMC announced that in order to keep the businesses alive, they had to “reverse the order” and require people to wear masks.
Many businesses have risen to the challenge in order to keep their customers satisfied as well as keep the business going. Many citizens choose to stay safe and be at home but some services are essential. Many businesses – like Walmart, for example – have been growing their pickup business. Starbucks has responded by making some locations “drive thrus only” to make sure the customers and employees feel as comfortable as possible.
Social distancing and requirements of masks is making it a challenge for businesses. Many citizens have been protesting wearing a mask. For example, a man protested the mask requirement at Costco Wholesales and the employees denied the man of service. Within two hours of the 30-day closure announcement, Mountainside Fitness announced their plans to sue the government for health concerns. This brought about a concern for how people would react to certain business safety policies.
“This can help to return to some form of normalcy faster,” said Arizona State professor of economics, Esteban Aucejo as he referred to the safety policies in place. Aucejo believes that the health and economic concerns should go hand in hand and that the safety policies will help the businesses overcome the struggle.
A local flower shop in Chandler almost went under business due to the pandemic. At Flowers by Renee, business owner Melissa Trickey stated that at one point revenue had shown a “significant decrease”. Weddings and parties were being canceled causing the shop to worry because they could not cater to them anymore.
Trickey noted that they were “fortunate enough” to receive a paycheck protection loan from the government and were able to pay the employees using those funds. The income was given by the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program. Now with the safety protocols in place, the shop has seen a steady increase in revenue. Trickey stated that the shop now is doing online and phone orders, as well as social distancing inside the store so that their customers can feel safe. There have not been any complaints about masks, said Trickey.
Many business owners are hopeful that outcomes and revenues will continue to increase if the public feels safe to receive the essentials they need. According to the MetLife Research, 79% of local businesses plan to bring back their employees as soon as it is safe to do so.