SOUTHPORT, N.C. (WECT) - Forget what you know about January first.
For many business owners, in the Cape Fear Region, the new year begins May eighth. That’s the date, the restrictions could start to be lifted from Governor Roy Cooper’s stay at home order, in the state’s battle against COVID-19. The governor’s plan is to start modifying the stay at home order, to dissolve in three phases. Right now, it expires on May 8th, a week from Friday, but it could be extended if there are research and data setbacks in the trajectory of the virus.
Gwen Tanner owns an upscale home decor and gift boutique in Southport.
“Well, I just realized I’m going to have get rid of all these testers, that can be a good thing. I know I’m not essential but I like to think we sell essential things,” Gwen Tanner says with a smile. “But it’s been an unbelievable six weeks. We were all kinda thinking this isn’t happening to us, this is happening somewhere else. This couldn’t be happening here in Southport.”
The Southport-Oak Island Area Chamber of Commerce reminds its 500 plus members, that the time to act, is now. In many cases it’s not going to as easy as slipping the key in the lock and opening the door.
“Not only do you have to look at all your OSHA requirements and all your policy manuals for the new requirements coming down from the state,” says Executive Vice President, Karen Sphar. “You also have to deal with the perceptions of your customers and how they will feel more comfortable coming back in.”
Cindy Capps greets you with a smile, walking in the front door of the Rusty Hooks Dockside Grill. It’s actually the second thing you notice. The first is the health inspectors sticker that displays a grade of 100.
“The health and well being of my employees and my guests is my number one priority,“ says Capps. "When it comes to sanitation and disinfection, this isn’t just because of a pandemic, it’s the way we keep a clean restaurant.”
The restaurant sits empty waiting for the green light from Raleigh. Capps is using this time to do some remodeling and reconfiguring of seating to make her returning guests feel as comfortable and safe as possible. She’s even having custom face masks made to outfit her staff.
“I long for my friends and returning customers. Failure is not an option,” says Capps. “I will persevere. I will be here when it’s said and done; I refuse not to be.“
"We have great stores here. It’s very lively, active and happy,” says Tanner. “We just want to get back to that. Get back to normal.”
Gwen Tanner says if that happens to be a “new” normal, well, it won’t be new for long.