Precautions against COVID-19 have prompted some local restaurants to restrict service to carry-out and drive-through. Others, including some of downtown’s longest standing locally owned eateries, shut down altogether.
Many of these businesses rely on patronage from East Tennessee State University, which has moved to online classes.
Meanwhile, Johnson City cinemas joined others across the country in closing. Just Jump and other recreational facilities also shut down.
The financial implications of these developments are real for all of us. Closures will have a ripple effect on other businesses and diminish the local tax base.
On a more personal level, some small business owners will have trouble making ends meet, and their employees will lack life-sustaining paychecks.
So what to do?
Please patronize those businesses that have found a way to stay open. Order carryout. Tip the staff just as you would a dining room server. Buy gift cards that you can redeem later. Give some to friends. These businesses need cashflow now.
If you know someone who’s out of work, cook for them. Buy them groceries. If you have the means, help any way you can.
Most importantly, spend your money locally. The economy here needs you. The Amazons of the world don’t need your help right now.
These closings only will be effective if people take individual precautionary measures just as seriously: Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, cough and sneeze into your elbow, avoid touching your face, stay 3 feet apart from others, avoid large gatherings and if you feel sick, stay home.
We suspect that we have just seen the tip of the iceberg on COVID-19’s health and financial effects at this stage. Hopefully these preventive measures will mitigate the damage, but we will have a long period of adjustment.
If history is any indication, our resilient nation will bounce back from this bump in the road. This, too, shall pass. The question is when. In the meantime, do your part.