Businesses doing their best to help slow the spread of the coronavirus

Reporter: Andryanna Sheppard Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:
Outside seating at restaurants in Cape Coral. Photo via WINK News

Authorities have said that the coronavirus spreads easily indoors and places like restaurants that have people in close proximity, make it difficult to social distance.

Restaurant owners say, in addition, with social distancing, they can only make so much money compared to what they made before the pandemic. Many of them are closing their businesses altogether, not just because of the increase in cases, but because people simply aren’t coming in like they used to.

“Revenue is down, customer count is down. I don’t know if it’s the heat or the virus. It’s just things are down,” said Duval Street owner, Vollen Loucks.

Loucks makes sure employees sanitize everything on each table after customers leave and there’s hand sanitizer throughout the restaurant.

Currently, masks are optional for employees and customers, but Loucks thinks a mandate could be a good idea so they can stay open and everyone can stay safe.

“If they tell us we need to wear a mask and we have high counts, then let’s do it. If we don’t have to wear them, then we don’t have to wear them,” he said.

Dr. Larry Antonucci, President and CEO of Lee Health, says as long as people are social distancing inside restaurants and wearing masks when applicable, they should be fine.

“I think if restaurants utilize appropriate distancing and wearing masks except for when they are eating or drinking, we should be able to get through this,” he said.

Backstreets Sports Bar, just down the road from Duval Street, doesn’t have any tables or chairs outside and no customers are allowed inside. Why? Because Shelly Walton closed her business to keep everyone safe.

“The staff stress level was rising. It’s uncomfortable for them to be working not knowing when people have it, even people who are asymptomatic are still roaming the streets and still going out and they could come across one of our staff or one of our other guests and then we’re just a petri bowl and we don’t want to be that environment,” said Walton.

Walton says even if the City of Cape Coral requires masks, it won’t be enough for her to reopen Backstreets. She wants cases to decrease before she opens her doors again.

“We can’t make the choice for the customers and what they want to do, but as a business owner who has almost 50 employees, it was in our best interest to not catch it and not spread it,” she said.

The City of Cape Coral is meeting Monday at 4:30 p.m. to decide whether or not masks will be mandated in public.

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