Small Businesses Adjust to Ever-changing COVID-19 Requirements
The ever-changing coronavirus has many dangers, ranging from financial difficulties to putting additional stress on employees.
For just a brief period this summer, it appeared like small businesses were enjoying a respite from the constant assault of the epidemic. More Americans who have been spending more and more time on their devices are getting vaccinated and rushing to stores and restaurants without the need to wear masks or practice social distancing.
Then came a rise in cases caused by Delta variants, which led to a push for mandated vaccination and a slow return to the more rigorous COVID-19 measures. Small business owners are struggling to find the right balance between being safe and being back to full-time business hours.
The ever-changing coronavirus has brought on many challenges, ranging from financial difficulties to putting additional stress on employees. These challenges are likely to increase as winter draws near and outdoor options become scarce. Some small business owners say that the effort can be worth the effort to keep their customers and employees as secure as they can.
"Just two weeks ago, small-business owners were hoping that a return to normalcy could speed up recovery," said Jessica Johnson-Cope, Chair of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Voices National Leadership Council and the owner of a small-sized business of her own, Johnson Security Bureau in New York.
New York City ordered a vaccination mandate for its consumers in the month of August. The mandate has been a headache for Dan Rowe, CEO of Fransmart who manages the Brooklyn Dumpling Shop, the mandate has proved to be an economic burden and an issue. Brooklyn Dumpling Shop first opened in May and employs six employees. Its convenient format for pandemics is contactless and is automated.
"It was designed to function as an eatery with fewer workers," Rowe said. Glass is used to separate the kitchen and employees from customers who purchase food through an app. After the kitchen is done cooking the food, it's set up on a glass that is automated, so employees don't have to interact with the customers.
"We've developed this fantastic low-cost restaurant and the government is forcing us to reverse," he said.
Rowe was forced to hire a second employee to verify vaccine certificates at the entrance, which increased his expenses. He is unhappy that supermarkets and stores that sell prepared food items such as Whole Foods don't face the same limitations.
"It's unfair the way things are going as well as it's impractical" He stated.
The new rules could cause customers to be confused - and possibly cause some anger. Suzanne Lucey has owned Page 158 Books bookstore in Wake Forest, N.C. for the past six years. The pandemic hit in the spring, and the shop was shut for three consecutive months. Page 158 Books reopened in July and gradually increased the capacity of the store by 5-12 in line with regulations of the state. Limits on capacity were removed prior to the Christmas season last year.
When the number of cases started creeping up in the summer, Lucey's area was the third-highest in the state for COVID-19 cases. The store has a sign in their window that states the requirement for a mask inside the store, however, without any city or state regulations to support it the rules aren't being enforced.
Lucey stated that two or three people per month do not follow the rules.
"It's difficult. It's not easy to turn away people. However, I want my employees to feel safe," Lucey said, particularly since two of her employees have medical conditions that leave them vulnerable. "I do not want my employees to feel as if they're forced to fight. That's why we're doing the situation. The majority of people are fairly respectful."
While the constant changes over the past 18 months have been exhausting, more than anything else, it's been stressful trying to make adjustments and trying to maintain an atmosphere of calm for employees and clients.