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As cases in Cuyahoga County continue to rise, small business owners fear another shutdown

Posted at 10:58 PM, Oct 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-27 13:07:29-04

CLEVELAND — As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, Cuyahoga County inches closer to the purple zone, or the zone with the highest rick of community spread. For business owners, that is concerning.

Ashlin Bacik, the owner of The Lock Loft salon in Lakewood said since she could reopen her doors, everything seems to be business as usual.

“Things have been great since we’ve reopened,” she said.

With COVID-19 safety measures in place, like temperature checks at the door, mandatory handwashing and mask-wearing, and a questionnaire for clients regarding their exposure, her salon has not experienced a positive case of COVID-19.

But that doesn’t mean she’s not watching the case count closely.

“It’s a little bit scary to think about there might be another chance we’d shut down again, with cases rising, schools beginning to close. It all seems very similar to how it was in March,” Bacik said.

It’s a constant worry that a Level 4 purple designation may mean another shutdown — a burden she carries not just for herself, but her 11 employees.

“I want to make sure they are able to provide for their families. For some of them, this is their only source of income. This is their main source of income for their household,” she said.

Nathan Murray, the co-owner of the Superelectric Pinball Parlor in Cleveland, is familiar with that fear. The parlor is a bar and pinball arcade that attracts people from all over the country. It just reopened at the beginning of October.

“We just wanted to be smart about it. Safety is our number one concern right now,” Murray said.

The parlor has reduced its capacity and limited the number of games it has to accommodate social distancing.

“We would have upwards of 40 to 50 people showing up with the general public here on top of that. It was a mad house,” said Murray, recounting a typical pre-pandemic Tuesday for them, when the parlor would host its pinball league nights.

He, too, is watching the case numbers closely.

“Very paranoid about this,” he said.

But he’s already thinking about what he would do if their doors had to shut again. He said, just like before, they’d rely on grants and loans, and also privately buying, selling and trading pinball machines throughout the country.

“Selling pinball machines could definitely get us through it,” he said.

Bacik is thinking ahead, too.

“A little bit of every portion of the day goes towards a savings account, just making sure that if something does happen again, that we can stay alive and stay afloat,” she said.

But she hopes before officials make any decision, they know where the spread is and is not coming from.

“They need to take a hard look and not just say ‘Oh this business, it seems like they’re in close contact.’ I think they need to pay attention to where actual spread is happening, where cases are forming. It’s just not happening here,” she said.

Governor DeWine has said that a big factor in the rise in cases seems to be from informal gatherings like birthday and retirement parties and not businesses like salons and restaurants that have safety protocol in place.