Some business owners advocate re-opening the economy with safety guidelines to avoid closures and permanent layoffs.
“We need to open ASAP if we want the economy to rebound,” said Char Jero, owner of First Class Cosmetology, 306 State St., Beloit.
Jero said those with hair salons are trained in safety and sterilization and would be able to find ways to keep clients and staff safe. Jero said she and many hair stylists are willing to take staff temperatures and take customers one at a time. Staff and clients could wear masks and gloves and all equipment and frequently-touched-surfaces would be sterilized.
Jero said there is no point in waiting until May 26 to allow salons to re-open as they could begin operating in a new safer way now.
“If we open tomorrow I can be successful, but in eight weeks I don’t know,” Jero said.
Jero said Governor Tony Evers needs to create a committee with representatives from salons, restaurants and other impacted businesses to come up with solutions unique to each individual business.
“Let’s not talk about what we can’t do. Let’s talk about what we can do,” Jero said.
Jero has been writing to legislators daily and plans to attend a protest against the stay at home order later this week in Madison.
“The bottom line is they are infringing on our constitutional rights. We have a right to make a living,” Jero said.
Colette Jenkins, owner of Bedazzled Salon and Day Spa, 11708 Main St., Roscoe, agreed salons can safely operate. Her salon has had to furlough five employees who haven’t received any unemployment benefits yet. She said her salon is set up where a client and salon worker could get their own room.
Rich Ranft, owner of Beloit Auction & Realty Inc., 534 W. Grand Ave., Beloit, and Vice President David Allen said the business is reopening on Friday with 12 of its furloughed employees returning. Customers will be making bids online and items will be dropped off or picked up curbside after quarantine. With two buildings totaling 20,000 square feet, employees can be adequately spaced apart. Ranft and Allen said they consider their business essential. People unable to hold an estate sale after a loved one passes away must pay maintenance, taxes and utilities on the properties until they are sold which can be financially burdensome.
Ranft and Allen hope other businesses soon will be able to open once they make adjustments. In order to stay in business, Ranft said owners are generally responsible and adept at innovation and change. He added a great stimulus for business would be to prorate commercial property taxes during the pandemic.
Tom Morgan, owner of CheezHead Brewing, 414 and 416 Pleasant St., Beloit, said he understands why the governor made his original order based on the fast-moving pandemic. However, he said it’s time to make adjustments. He said the re-opening of the golf courses was an example of such pragmatism.
At his outdoor beer garden, he said tables could be set apart and staff could wear gloves and masks.
“We should start to surgically make decisions in specific instances of commerce,” Morgan said.
House of Lexx Tattoo & Piercings, 524 E. Grand Ave., and Game Lounge, 530 E. Grand Ave. in Beloit, owner Lexx Valadez said he understands why socially distancing won’t work at his indoor bar and he’s accepted he will likely lose the business he started running only nine months ago.
However, he said his tattoo business could reopened by strategic scheduling of customers and staff. He said his 10 tattoo artists, independent contractors, have been unable to obtain any unemployment at this time. Valadez said his tattoo business should be able to survive, but if the restrictions go past July it could start to endanger his business.
Roberta “Bert” Ciulla, Valadez’s landlord and the former owner of Sicilian and The Bop, said social distancing could be done in bars and restaurants which already have stringent health restrictions. Ciulla, like many landlords, may not receive rent as the businesses are closed.
Ciulla, 75, said if restrictions aren’t loosened, some will go out of business leading to people being dependent on social services and ultimately being on the streets.