COVID-19 hurts small businesses

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

The spread of the COVID-19 virus has had negative consequences for Arkansas businesses. That negative trend was furthered Monday as state health officials announced the immediate mandatory statewide closure of barber shops, hair salons, nail salons, tanning salons, massage therapy and tattoo shops.

The order did not specify a time period for the shutdown.

Locally, several restaurants have been closed until dine in service can resume. In Osceola, Huddle House, Evergreen Chinese Restaurant, King Wok Chinese Restaurant, A Taste of Heaven Coffee Shop, and the Museum Coffee and Gift Shoppe are all closed for the foreseeable future. Main Street Osceola’s Food Truck Wednesdays has been cancelled as well.

The restrictions on gatherings has led those restaurants which remain open to go to carry out or delivery service only. Many area churches have also cancelled Sunday services or have taken those services on-line.

Several factories in the city have also shut down temporarily. American Greetings is closed for a second week, while DENSO is closed this week. Both are closed as a result of the slowdown in the nation’s economy.

The coronavirus has claimed two lives as two Central Arkansas men, one in his 50s and one older than 80, succumbed to the virus Tuesday. A total of 218 Arkansans are now known to have contracted the COVID-19 virus. Ten of those 218 have recovered. While three new counties were added to the list Tuesday, Mississippi County has yet to have a confirmed case among those who have been tested thus far.

State health officials encourage Arkansans to continue to practice “social distancing.” While officials in other states and neighboring Memphis, have ordered the shutdown of non-essential businesses, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has thus far not seen the wisdom in doing so. The state is looking at a potential shortfall of some $353 million which has caused the governor to ask for a special session of the Arkansas General Assembly in order that the state budget be balanced.

Thus far, it is estimated some $160 million in state revenue has been lost due to the economic downturn. Local governments are not feeling the effects of the slowdown so far. That will happen in April when sales tax turn-backs will be lower due to the revenue lost in March.

Governor Hutchinson also released $30 million so heathcare officials in the state can purchase needed personal protection items.