The newest COVID-19 mandates from Gov. Andy Beshear following an increase in cases has local businesses brainstorming how to operate with the new conditions.
According to the new restrictions, restaurants cannot serve food and beverages indoors but can serve carry out and provide outdoor service as long as customers are six feet apart and tables have a maximum of eight people.
Kevin Cotton, owner of Brother’s BBQ and mayor of Madisonville, said the business has had to rework how they are operating and will offer curbside service just like they did at the beginning of the pandemic in March.
“By going to curbside service it is going to be a bit of a challenge for us, but it is going to be a challenge for every restaurant,” he said.
Since he has had to close down the dinning room Cotton is expecting to see a decline in sales.
This time around the restrictions will impact the business more because they haven’t had a chance to recoup and run at full capacity, he said.
“I think it is going to be tough for every restaurant in our community, simply because they haven’t had a chance to get caught up from being shut down the first time,” said Cotton.
When Brother’s BBQ first shut down Cotton said they had access to Paycheck Protection Programs to help offset some of the losses and helped keep the doors open
Cotton said there may be some funds available after Nov. 30 to help his business, but with three restaurants, the money may not help much. He is hoping the decline in sales will not affect his employees and that the money helps him keep them all.
“Our staff has done a fantastic job,” said Cotton. “They have been very willing to overcome and adapt to the challenges we have been facing.”
Cotton said he already has his employees stagger their shifts, check their temperatures before work, wear masks and stay quarantined if they are around someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Cotton said it is unlikely the restaurant will serve indoors even after the restrictions lift in December.
“We are looking at such an uptick in our numbers in our community that the more people who continue to get together and not abide by the recommendations of the governor it is going to continue to spread this virus,” said Cotton. “We can’t just think that this virus is just going to disappear.”
He asks the community to support local businesses because community is what can help a local businesses get through this time.
“Our customers are more than just a number, they are more than just a ticket, they are family,” said Cotton. “Family definitely supports each other in tough times and we anticipate seeing that in this time.”
Gyms and other recreation facilities have also been impacted by the new restrictions. According to the order, facilities can only allow 33% of the maximum occupancy, prohibit indoor group activities and require masks be worn at all times, even while working out.
Chad Hart, CEO of the Hopkins County YMCA, said he hopes the new restrictions will have minimal impact on the organization.
“As an organization, we plan to act as responsible as possible to continually gain the trust of our community during this pandemic,” said Hart.
Hard added since the facility is so big they have been able to space out equipment to ensure people remain safe.
“Because of the size of our facility, we have not reached the 33% capacity limits since those restrictions were implemented in June,” said Hart.
They have put signs on machines to keep people from using them, added stations around the facility with disinfectant clothes for members to wipe down the equipment and they have added signs around the facility to let people know the maximum capacity for that room.
“Our staff has been conditioned through the pandemic to think strategically and try to think through and foresee potential issues before they arrive,” said Hart.
With masks being worn even during a work out Hart said he understands if some people leave the YMCA but hopes they will become an Impact Member. Impact Members will have access to the YMCA’s virtual wellness components and Fit Kit rental systems for free.
“During the pandemic, many opportunities are taken away and restrictions limit the number of programs they can offer which hurts them financially,” he said. “The YMCA will continue looking at creative options and focus on fundraising efforts. The YMCA is absolutely nothing without our community.”