Shoals businesses owners say they're ready to re-open after coronavirus restrictions

Small businesses told WAAY31 they're ready to open up.

Posted: Apr 27, 2020 5:30 PM
Updated: Apr 28, 2020 9:10 PM

The talks of reopening the state from coronavirus restrictions are happening, but the big question is, how, and what could reopening businesses look like?

The not knowing is leading business owners to play out multiple scenarios and take guesses at their strategies.

Tuesday, Gov. Kay Ivey will hold a press conference in Montgomery. She is expected to discuss what reopening the state will look like, but it's unclear if she will extend the Stay at Home order or allow things to start opening back up.

Darrell Higgins, owner of Party at the Next Level in Tuscumbia, said his business has inflatables along with laser tag. They rent the space out for people to have their kids' birthday parties, but none of those birthday parties are happening since coronavirus.

Higgins said the operation is just a side business but it does bring in a lot of money to help him support his family. He closed down before the state mandated it because he was concerned for people's safety. Higgins also refunded those who had paid to reserve the space.

"It's just totally wiped us out. And of course we still have to pay our bills like were operating," said Higgins.

Higgins said they were about to be in busy season when coronavirus happened. He said he applied for the Paycheck Protection Program but his business didn't qualify.

"We weren't able to get any help because we don't have full-time employees and that was on of the qualifications we didn't reach that," said Higgins.

With no help from the government, Higgins said he's relying on being able to open but he has no idea when that could be, or what regulations will be in place.

"We're not sure what the rules are going to be or how we're going to do it but were ready to go with whatever they say because we are ready to be open," said Higgins.

WAAY 31 spoke with mayors throughout the Shoals and they said Higgins' story is one they're hearing from small businesses. They're ready to open up with safety in mind.

Higgins said they already clean the inflatables regularly but he plans on doubling the cleaning, limiting the amount of kids for birthday parties, having hand sanitizer and wipes available for patrons, and making his part-time employees wear masks.

"We're already talking about different steps we can do now making sure that everything is sanitized and cleaned down and were going to do everything possible to make sure and take care of the safety of people that come in this business," said Higgins.

Higgins did say he's worried people won't immediately come back even after his business is open because fears of the virus are still out there.

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