PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Florida was one of the first states to begin re-opening its economy since the coronavirus shutdowns, and local businesses are seeing the consequences.
As positive cases in Bay County continue to rise, local restaurants are taking initiative. At least two Panama City restaurants, The Place and Tom’s Hot Dogs, have chosen to close down their main dining areas starting Monday and restricted their businesses to take out and outdoor seating only.
“I think as we have opened things up we’re seeing numbers grow and it’s a little scary right now,” said Pam Armstrong, Tom’s Hotdogs owner.
Beef O’Brady’s in DeFuniak Springs recently closed its doors due to a positive COVID-19 case among its staff. This is what others, including Armstrong, are afraid of for their businesses.
“We want to make sure we can keep our staff employed,” said Kim Stiegler, The Place Downtown owner. “And if someone here gets sick then we lose that opportunity.”
“This was a really hard decision to make because we love our customers and love seeing them and having them come in,” Steigler added. “But at the same time, with the rise in cases and even though the deaths and hospitalizations haven’t gotten so ridiculously high, we just thought the better to maybe slow it down a little bit and try to limit exposure.”
More and more studies worldwide show that the chances of transmitting COVID-19 is 20 times less likely outdoors than indoors. Business owners are hoping that this is enough.
“Maybe I jumped a little too fast to go ahead and open up the dining room,” Armstrong said. “I think this is just a way for me to slow down and take a look at things.”