‘It’s like remodeling your house while it’s on fire’: Business owners react to Virginia’s new COVID-19 restrictions

On-site sale, consumption and possession of alcohol is now prohibited after 10 p.m.

Businesses hit hard by new coronavirus restrictions
Businesses hit hard by new coronavirus restrictions

ROANOKE, Va. – New COVID-19 restrictions are now in effect across Virginia, limiting what people can do as we head into the holidays.

These restrictions include changes to alcohol sales, gathering sizes and mask mandates.

“We’re battle-hardened a little bit on it and we continue to battle through it,” said Brian Wells the general manager of The Hotel Roanoke.

After starting to build back a little normalcy over the last couple of months, new restrictions are bringing new challenges for the hotel.

“Now it’s really back to really quiet,” Wells said. “45% of our business annually, it’s all group-related.”

Beginning Sunday, the gathering size limit statewide shrank from 250 to just 25 people that’s what hits the hardest.

“We had conferences booked this week that got that news suddenly with us on Friday and they did cancel,” explained Wells.

Wells wasn’t the only one caught off-guard.

“It’s like remodeling your house while it’s on fire. I mean you’re constantly every week trying to come up with a new game plan,” said Jason Martin, CEO of Martin’s Downtown & Sidecar.

Martin said cutting off alcohol consumption at 10 p.m. and closing by midnight will be devastating for his restaurant.

“It’s going to cost us tens of thousands of dollars a week,” Martin said.

He’s had to cancel local musicians, lay off eight employees and said a dozen more will have their hours and tips cut in half, if not more, all because of these new restrictions.

This comes on top of the guidelines already in place that he said were working.

“It’s been painful to do, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much we try to enforce stuff to keep people distanced and safe, it doesn’t seem to matter,” Martin said. “We’ll probably be dipping into savings just to get the bills paid and just fingers crossed that the savings last as long as the restrictions do."

Wells and Martin are both hoping for a vaccine as soon as possible.

They don’t their businesses will be able to really recover until that happens.


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