‘Just being cautious’: Local businesses stay optimistic as COVID-19 cases continue to rise

Norfolk

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Local businesses say they’re prepared for whatever changes may be on the horizon as COVID-19 case numbers steadily creep back up.

Restrictions on indoor dining, including capacity and times to serve alcohol, have been lifted since Memorial Day weekend in the Commonwealth when cases first began to decline.

The owners of the Colley Café in Ghent are no strangers to the challenges restrictions and the pandemic brought to new businesses the last year.

They opened back in September, but then quickly shut down as COVID-19 cases began to rise during the winter surge.

Now, the doors of the tapas bar have been open since July, but manager Terry Jernigan says he’s concerned as he watches cases creep up again.

“Reopening this time, we were very optimistic,” he said. “But the numbers are going up again and we’re hoping we can keep the doors open and keep people coming in.”

10 On Your Side spoke to other busy business owners off-camera Saturday, which is good news for an industry hit hard last year.

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Many of them are continuing to deal with staffing shortages and trouble meeting high customer demand. In addition, several have shorter hours because they don’t have the staff to stay open.

Most say they won’t make capacity or other changes unless the governor mandates it.

Back at the Colley Café, they say they’ll put restrictions back in place if it comes to it.

“Definitely don’t want to have anyone getting sick coming in or leaving,” said Jernigan. “So, I think it’s going to come to a point where we’re going to have to go back into that.”

Even with many questions about the future, staff says they’re still optimistic.

“We went through this once before and we saw the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “Right now, it’s a little dark, but we’re optimistic.”

Governor Northam has not signaled any sort of new mandates for businesses, like the ones seen over the last year. 

The CDC, however, does recommend wearing masks indoors – regardless of someone’s vaccination status.

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