Morgantown local businesses stay the course as COVID-19 cases spike

Monongalia

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Morgantown local businesses are maintaining safety guidelines with some having plans in store for any future lockdowns.

As COVID-19 cases spike in West Virginia with Monongalia County being hit especially hard, businesses are continuing with the safety guidelines previously put in place. For outdoor equipment retailer Pathfinder, this means what many businesses have been enforcing since early May.

“We ask customers to wear masks as well as having hand sanitizer available, and if you’re not feeling well or not sure that you’re sick, then we ask you don’t come in,” said general manager Gabriel Fitzwater.

Some businesses are responding to the rise in cases by going “contactless” like Black Bear Burritos. Along with the need to protect their workers, the restaurant also fears they could cause the number of cases to escalate.

“Given the upticks, we feel like we have a responsibility to do what we can to eliminate continued spread,” said co-owner Jason Coffman.

Other restaurants have done the same as well. Fresh Mint Indian Grill stopped dine-in services last Tuesday along with starting over the phone payments.

With these different measures in place, businesses are looking to the past for guidance in the event of future situations arising. Pathfinder said it would first limit customers coming in then close their store and only allow curbside pickup as cases amount again. Black Bear and Fresh Mint are already employing some of the same procedures used during the initial lockdown.

The toll these changes have had on businesses is varying. While some businesses did not lose much because of the virus, others have been feeling the economic impact from it. Fresh Mint Indian Grill had to slow operations by 50 percent since the guidelines were enacted. Co-owner James Kraess says many businesses he interacts with “have the same problems.”

Although these measures are to keep both employees and customers secure, there is still anxiety among businesses that the virus may be found to transfer to others in their locations. Three Morgantown bars have been traced back to four individuals who were infected late last month.

“Everybody has worries, definitely,” said James Kraess, co-owner of Fresh Mint. “It’s an invisible thing, so nobody knows.”

As of Monday, June 6, Governor Justice announced he would sign an executive order to make wearing a mask mandatory for all residents when entering establishments.

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