Open sign during COVID

WARRENSBURG — When the state and county stay-at-home orders were lifted May 3, nonessential businesses were permitted to reopen for the first time since April 1, but the challenges facing these businesses continued as they were then tasked with altering their operations and procedures to ensure the safety of customers and employees amid the spread of COVID-19.

Additionally, a number of businesses owners have opted to remain closed past May 3 until they feel prepared to provide their services in a safe environment.

"Just because the stay-at-home order is lifted does not mean businesses are back to normal," Warrensburg Main Street Executive Director Jill Purvis said. "As this is all new to businesses, it is taking time for businesses to adjust and get supplies and procedures in place."

Purvis said the challenges and procedures during the reopening process varies from business to business.

"Hair salons are providing masks for their customers and providing masks for their staff," Purvis said. "Then you have restaurants and retail where masks are optional, but they're making sure their tables are spaced out appropriately and their lines are spaced out appropriately. Everybody is sanitizing appropriately. Hand sanitizer is available for customers. They are putting notifications on doors of their procedures. All of them are limiting access in some way. Some of them have it posted on their door, some of its on social media, some are asking people to wait in their car until its their turn to come in."

Purvis said occupancy and social distancing requirements have proved to be challenging for businesses such as restaurants.

"Some of our restaurants are struggling with how to make that work within their space and still be able to have a profitable business," Purvis said. "They're things you're not used to when you're running a business. It's just taking a little more time to get logistics worked out."

Purvis said another challenge facing businesses as they reopen is that many people remain wary of leaving their homes unless necessary.

"Some people aren't ready to go out yet," Purvis said. "They're not ready to shop or dine-in. The amount of people that are out and about is still rather low."

This decline in foot traffic has lead to revenue hits for many local businesses.

"Most are still operating at a 50% of their normal revenue," Purvis said. "There are a few getting closer to being back to normal, but most of them are at 50% or less."

Purvis encourages the community to support local stores, restaurants and service providers as they reopen.

For those who do not yet feel comfortable shopping or eating in public establishments, Purvis suggests ordering items and having them delivered or picking them up curbside.

Purvis also said those wanting to support local businesses but are unable to do financially can write a review of the business or share the businesses' information on social media for others to see.

Purvis said one of the first things Warrensburg Main Street did in response to COVID-19 was update its downtown business directory that lists downtown businesses and their businesses hours, social media pages and websites at warrensburgmainstreet.org/directory/.

Warrensburg Main Street has continually updated the information on the page to reflect businesses' changes to their hours and operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The organization also created a Facebook group for downtown businesses owners to communicate directly with one another.

Warrensburg Main Street has used the group chat to share information regarding COVID-19 updates and procedures.

Warrensburg Main Street also postponed or canceled a number of its downtown events scheduled for dates amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, Purvis said the organization has been able to make some events virtual to allow people to participate safely.

One such example is the organization's Historic Walk in celebration of Historic Preservation Month, which was changed to the Downtown Warrensburg Historic Scavenger Hunt where participants can walk/drive around downtown Warrensburg to find historical pieces of architecture. 

More information regarding Warrensburg Main Street and its upcoming events can be found at warrensburgmainstreet.org/.

Staff Writer Dustin Steinhoff can be reached by emailing dustin.steinhoff@dsjnow.com or by calling (660) 747-8123.​

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