LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - With no end in sight to the coronavirus pandemic, Kentucky’s struggling small businesses and restaurants are trying to figure out how to move forward.
Small businesses say they’ve got another hurdle to overcome as Kentucky is back in the red and Gov. Andy Beshear is advising people to stay safe and stay home.
So what can be done to help? The Interim Joint Committee on Tourism, Small Business, and Information Technology met in Frankfort on Thursday to try to figure that out.
Small business owners said they’re not only now trying to prove to the public what safety precautions they’re taking; they are also scrambling to find people willing to come back to work.
“We can make them feel safe in a public environment,” Colonial Cottage owner Matt Grimes said.
From posting videos on social media to showing sanitizing procedures from open to close and putting up plexiglass partitions on every booth, Grimes said it’s all about making customers feel comfortable at his family-owned restaurant. Colonial Cottage, a popular Kentucky tourist spot in Erlanger, has been busy doing everything owners can think of to keep going at 50-percent capacity.
“We don’t want to see further restrictions,” Grimes said. “We are really lobbying to maintain what we’ve got. Even though the COVID-19 numbers may be statistically spiking, we can still operate in a safe environment.”
The message to lawmakers has been that restaurants have gone above and beyond during the pandemic.
“In some cases, they’ve had companies to come in and completely rework their ductwork,” said Stacy Roof, the president of the Kentucky Restaurant Association.
Roof and representatives from the Kentucky Retail Federations told a committee on tourism and small business that as the weather gets colder, the red code recommendations from Beshear’s office aren’t helping.
“It pushes customers away from the safety of a highly-regulated environment,” Roof said. “It pushes (the public) into the places that we’re saying. We don’t want them to go and we don’t want them to go have house parties. We don’t want them to have small gatherings.”
Sen. Reginald Thomas, a Democrat from Lexington said he’d listen to suggestions.
“Tell us what would you like for us to do, since this virus is on top of us and on top of us in a very surging way," he said.
The business representatives suggested putting Cares Act money aside to help restaurants and not lump restaurants in with bars that are selling very little food. Other recommendations to lawmakers to help restaurants include a state public relations campaign to encourage carryout and delivery as well as making alcohol and cocktails to go permanently legal.
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