Berrien County businesses react to second wave of ordered closures

NOW: Berrien County businesses react to second wave of ordered closures

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. -- From restaurants to fitness studios, business owners in Berrien County said having to close their indoor, group settings again is another blow in an already tough year, but that they completely back health officials’ decision in hopes of flattening the curve.

“When I was here Saturday working with one of our bakers, I said, ‘I hope you’re mentally preparing like I am, I have a feeling that we’re going to have to go back to curbside and carry out,’” said Joy Bancroft, owner of Red Coach Donuts.

Starting Wednesday, restaurants, fitness studios and entertainment venues like movie theaters and bowling alleys will have to once again shift operations to prevent large gatherings.

Health officials say the continued spike in Michigan can’t stop without mitigating community spread.

“Flattening the curve once again this fall will help our hospital system maintain its optimal capacity, have enough PPE and staffing to care for people, as well as prevent lives that could be lost,” said Gillian Conrad, MPH, Communications Manager at the Berrien County Health Department.

Despite some financial help from the state, it still doesn’t leave business owners in a good enough position to remain fully staffed for the time being – even though they plan to rehire all employees after the epidemic order is lifted.

“We did unfortunately have to make some layoffs this morning, I remember the last time this happened I said to myself, ‘Thank God we won’t have to do something like this again’ but, here we are again,” said Christian Cook, Head Brewer and Co-Owner at Silver Harbor Brewing Company.

Even though the order doesn’t go into effect until Wednesday, one business decided to go completely virtual starting Monday.

“I just feel like for the safety of the greater community, I did put it into effect immediately, so we did shut down all in-person classes and we have our virtual offerings up and running already,” said Brooke Margherone, Owner of Yoga Life.

There are still fears of the economic fallout from another shutdown, but with Berrien County seeing around 100 new cases per day, the only other option could be fatal for many.

“It’s a lot easier to save our economy and reopen things, it’s impossible for us to bring people back from the dead who will perish from this virus,” said Conrad.

Gatherings are also limited to just two households and 25 people outdoors under the order, so health officials continue to urge people to adjust Thanksgiving plans accordingly.

At Stevensville’s Red Coach Donuts, the shop will have indoor seating available Tuesday before they fully switch to carry-out and curbside orders Wednesday. Customers are encouraged to order online or over the phone.

Over at Silver Harbor Brewing Company in St. Joseph, diners will still be allowed inside Tuesday, but due to the decrease in temperatures, outdoor seating is no longer available any the restaurant will only do carry-out and curbside. Both food and alcohol will still be available.

As for Yoga Life, also in St. Joseph, they have already returned operations to being 100% virtual and are offering a full schedule over Zoom. Clients are asked to register for class ahead of time on their website.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’s epidemic order expires at 11:59 p.m. December 8.

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