Reopening could pose potential problems for local businesses

Local News

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) — Being closed due to the pandemic has put a large financial burden on many small businesses. If Governor Holcomb makes it a requirement for businesses to provide protective equipment for customers and employees, the cost of reopening on May 1st may prove to be too high for some to afford.

Not that businesses in Indiana seem to have an answer to the question of ‘when’ they can reopen, many are now looking for the ‘how.’ Governor Eric Holcomb says he is working with governors of nearby states to coordinate reopening efforts and requirements. One possibility would be to require certain businesses to provide masks for customers and employees.

“Who has to buy all the extra stuff that’s going to be needed? There’s always a long and short answer, but the short answer is it’s going to fall significantly on the businesses themselves,” said Southwest Indiana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tara Barney.

Small business owners applications accepted through Restart Evansville program

Aside from finding the finances to purchase what they’ll need, finding someone who has it is another potential problem.

“That’s certainly been one of the biggest conversations we’ve been having with businesses. We’re standing up on our website and working with the City of Evansville to provide businesses with access to distributers and others that have these supplies. What businesses need generally is a little bit different than what you and I need. They may want a hand pump, but five gallons of disinfectant is just as important to make sure they can clean dishes and glassware and all those things,” said Barney.

For businesses that are in need of PPE, shopping local might be the best place to start.

“This is a supply chain issue. If it’s coming from offshore, the risks are greater than if it’s being made in the Tri-State,” said Barney.

Governor Holcomb has not yet made wearing masks or other personal protective gear a requirement for the hoosier state, but if he does, Barney says the responsibility doesn’t lie entirely on the businesses.

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“I think every citizen has a responsibility to take care of their personal health and not be in the business of infecting others. We are fully in the camp of encouraging responsible personal action by everyone that’s a Hoosier,” said Barney.

If you’re a local business looking to reopen, click here for resources and information from the SWIC.

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(This story was originally published on April 29, 2020)

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