Area eateries hurt by a stay in place order
~ by Trevor Phipps ~
The recent coronavirus outbreak has resulted in stringent regulations that, according to some civic leaders, have impacted local businesses more than the actual virus.
To date, there have been less than 10 confirmed cases in the county, one of which resulted in a death.
Two weeks ago, Colorado Governor Jared Polis issued an order that closed many businesses including casinos, bars, and dine-in restaurants.
Then, last week the governor stepped it up a notch when he closed more businesses after issuing a statewide “Stay-at-Home” order. With the executive action came about a list of
businesses that are considered critical that can stay operating. The list includes essential services such as construction, grocery stores, and even liquor stores and marijuana dispensaries.
However, as a part of the shelter in place order, Colorado residents were asked to only leave their homes when absolutely necessary. This Stay-at-Home order, put into place last Thursday, has even further disrupted the operations of many local businesses.
After the announcement was made by the governor last week, three local restaurants decided to shut their doors for the time being and not stay open to serve takeout meals and drinks. Mike’s BBQ in Divide, Carmen a Tapas, and Grandmother’s Kitchen in Woodland Park all decided to close down until the regulations are released.
According to Carmen A Tapas owner Carlos Macis, his decision to close down operations had to do with a concern for his employees. “My decision to close here was based on the fact that my crew here is like family. They are not really employees. Everybody here is like family and I couldn’t stand it if one of them got sick. It would just kill me,” Macis said. “So, we kind of said ‘no it is not worth it.’ We tried to open a few days but we lost money on that because it was not busy enough, people are just not coming out.”
The Hungry Bear also first started operating takeout only but then decided to shut down completely after a few days. The Historic Ute Inn and the Crystola Roadhouse have both not been open after the governor outlawed dine-in service.
According to the owner of the Historic Ute Inn Elijah Murphy, his decision to close was based on both financial reasons and the safety of his employees. He said that some of his
employees have health issues that could make them vulnerable for complications with the disease. He also said that his overhead was too high to keep the doors open with takeout food only.
The restaurants that have opted to stay open have greatly reduced their hours and their staff to remain operating. Judge’s Chargrill has seen a decent amount of business as they have stayed up and running by offering delivery and curbside pickup services. However, many other restaurants say that business is slow because people are just not out and about.
Restaurants not the only victims of statewide closures
Other businesses in the region, besides restaurants and casinos, have also been negatively impacted. William’s Log Cabin Furniture in Woodland Park shut their doors and on their voicemail, the owners say it is because they are not considered an essential business by the governor’s orders.
Tweeds Fine Furnishings has decreased their staff and they have been keeping their doors closed for the time being. However, owner Tanner Coy said that he is still present at his business every day keeping up essential business operations and that he will let one person in his store at a time if they wish to purchase something. He also said that his website is still functioning and that he can sell products through his webpage or over the phone.
The Cowhand located in downtown Woodland Park closed one day last week but then they decided to keep open for their regular hours because people were still around and wanting to come into the store and purchase items. Store owner Mary Jo Larsen said that before the governor announced the stay at home order that business at their store was at the same level it was last year.
Other retail stores in the area have also seen a decrease in foot traffic, but some businesses have not been impacted, and others have even seen a spike in revenues. The grocery and liquor stores have been running rather low on inventory as people are purchasing more from these types of retail establishments.
Cashiers at local gas stations have said that they still see around 300 customers a day, and that not much has changed for them. The local gun stores and the pawnshop in Woodland Park have actually seen a huge spike in business. Gun and ammo sales have been increasing, and these types of stores are running out of stock of certain high demand items.
According to Brad Poulson, the external relations representative for Newmont’s Cripple Creek and Victor Mine, the company’s mining operations will be relatively unaffected. “Under the Orders, ‘critical businesses’ and ‘essential businesses’ include critical infrastructure and critical manufacturing, including businesses that produce products essential to these processes,” a press release issued by Newmont said. “The metals we produce at Newmont CC&V are integral to various critical infrastructure and critical manufacturing.”
Poulson also said that the mine has established a COVID-19 response team that is working towards following government regulations and protecting their employees. “The very nature of our work ensures a built-in level of isolation for the essential miners who remain on site,” the press release said. “Beyond that, CC&V employee teams have completed the Colorado Department of Public Health’s Social Distancing Certification for Businesses, which establishes the highest standards for preventing the spread of Coronavirus.”
The Greater Woodland Park Chamber of Commerce has remained in operation. Moreover, it has been working hard towards keeping local businesses informed of the new regulations getting put in place at the state level and the grants and loans that may be available. According to chamber president Debbie Miller, the organization has tried to keep members up to date with the latest changes in regulations, as well as keeping the community informed as far as what businesses are still operating.
In a press release issued by the WP Chamber of Commerce, Miller announced that a group of over 80 chambers from across the country have formed the Save Small Business Coalition to work with local governments and help come up with ways to keep businesses afloat. “It is imperative at this time our elected officials come together and support the backbone of this country – Small Businesses,” the chamber president said. “The sheer number of Chambers across the region working together indicates the significance of this task.”
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