Small businesses see pros, cons to state reopening amid higher COVID-19 cases

NOW: Small businesses see pros, cons to state reopening amid higher COVID-19 cases

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Since Indiana’s advancement to Phase 4 in the state’s Back on Track plan, businesses all over have tried to rebound from what was lost while their doors were closed during the early parts of the pandemic.

Phase five is still a week away in what would be vacation time for workers at Jeannie's House, a diner in South Bend’s River Park neighborhood.

But to the managers, they’ll have to take a little less time off.

That’s because bar seating of the popular breakfast and lunch spot has been subject to limited capacity, forcing extra safety measures at the diner, which only reopened June 15 for Phase 4.

With one week until the next phase however, Manager Halie Rogge admits there will always be risks as coronavirus cases continue to rise.

“Obviously we’re kind of tight in here so we’re going to call our health department lady that we really like and talk to her, and see what we can do to follow the guidelines,” Rogge said. “We hope to get back to normal, and if they let us open fully then I guess it’s going to be up to the customer whether they want to risk coming into a place like this.”

Elsewhere, local boutique Unique International, LLC reports that the vast majority of sales now come from online shopping.

Owner Traci Williams said she hopes Phase 5 will send more customers through the doors of her shop in downtown South Bend.

“It’s been pivoting; things change like almost every week,” Williams said. “There were days I would just come down here and move stuff around and wipe things down, it was like a ghost town down here. And I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, now what?’ So we were pushed into that world, of virtual, and it’s been pretty good. But it’s all new. So we’re learning different things daily.”

Builders Store, Inc. on Mishawaka Avenue however, never closed because it’s considered an essential business.

But as case counts increase, the supply of personal protective equipment has dwindled, Manager Mark Wolfram said.

“Supplies are an issue. We have to look in a lot of places just to find things for the customers, but so far they’ve been patient. You do what you’ve got do to provide the customers with what they need.”

As of now, according to Indiana’s State Health Department, starting July 4 businesses everywhere can expand capacity and services yet again, but it’s up to counties to proceed with the go-ahead.

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