Student Life Editor
Small businesses are feeling the financial burden of the Coronavirus outbreak. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses across America are closed to prevent the further spread of the virus. While all businesses have been affected by the pandemic, small business owners and employees are feeling financial pressure the most.
“Non-essential” businesses have been closed for almost two weeks — spas, dine-in restaurants, and even daycare centers have been closed until further notice.
As President Trump made announcements, calling the outbreak a national emergency, the CEOs of corporations, such as Wal-Mart, Target and CVS surrounded him, assuring the public that they will remain open. Most “big box stores” have remained open, crowed with customers seeking quarantine essentials, while small businesses are on a financial decline.
According to a study by Coresight Research, retailers will announce more than 15,000 store closures by 2020, damaging the already declining retail industry and displacing a number of workers.
As a result of the economic downturn, more than 3 million Americans have filed for unemployment.
With social distancing no longer a suggestion but a mandate, most businesses have made operations remote. However, virtual work is not an option for everyone.
Restaurants, like mini markets and convenience stores, that are not available on Grubhub or Doordash have very little options. Their choices are to either temporarily close, losing almost a month’s worth of revenue or ignore the precautions of lawmakers and remain open for business.
Gerardo Rodriguez, the owner of Rodriguez Mini Market, a local minimarket in Philadelphia, said that business has been a bit rocky lately, but he is not worried. He, fortunately, owns another minimarket, less than a mile away. He explains when business becomes slow at one, he has the income from the other to rely on.
With children and parents home from work and school, utility bills are increasing as well as the demand for more food to feed households, creating more financial burdens on families. Some workers are not completely without pay, but instead are using their paid time off to cover their basic household needs.
The uncertainty has caused concern in many homes:
Shelley Brown, an assistant teacher at Rise and Sun Children Center in Philadelphia, has worked at her daycare for almost 16 years. Brown explains how the virus has affected her and her initial response to the crisis.
“I was pretty surprised because the director at our daycare doesn’t close for anything. The moment I knew it was really serious was when me and my colleagues were hearing that schools may be closing,” said Brown. “I received an email talking about filling for unemployment, but quickly received another email saying don’t file for it just yet.”
Businesses are patiently waiting for financial assistance, as the congress just passed a $2 trillion stimulus bill to help citizens impacted by the pandemic. The stimulus bill establishes small business loans as well as loan forgiveness. The bill also makes individuals who filed taxes separately eligible for a $1,200, $2,400 for married couples and an additional $500 for children under age 17.
Financial assistance gives some relief, but business closures are still an issue; meanwhile, others are looking for ways to aid businesses and those affected by their closure.
Brown says many parents depend on the daycare to feed their children daily, but with the daycare closed they will have to find other ways to feed their children. However, every Monday and Thursday, RFTS Food Company stocks Brown’s daycare with plenty of food to help combat issues the virus has caused. The food supplier provides two meals and a snack for children.
Governor Tom Wolf announced a new relief program, under the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority or PIDA’s Small Business First Fund, promising loans up to $100,000 for businesses with less than 100 employees. The PIDA authorized $60 million towards the loans.
GoFundMe is also helping assist business owners. The organization has created The GoFundMe Small Business Relief Initiative for small businesses.
“During these uncertain times, one thing is certain. Small businesses are struggling. And it’s our turn to help those who have dedicated their livelihoods to serving us, like your favorite barista, nail technician, and yoga instructor.”
With circumstances changing every day such uncertainty is met with optimism, as corporations and citizens rush to aid those greatly affected by the Coronavirus.
For more information about COVID-19 and its effects visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html and local media sites.
Email Charlese at: