Local businesses are scrambling to cope after the City of Flagstaff announced widespread closures and restrictions as a precaution to slow the spread of COVID-19. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports.
Restaurants and bars are now banned from serving food and drinks on their premises. Collins Irish Pub in downtown Flagstaff was preparing for their annual Saint Patrick’s Day celebration when the new restriction was announced. They’ll end the party early tonight at 8 p.m. when the 15-day restriction takes effect.
Spokesperson Eddie Karner says he understands the city’s decision. "Maybe a little premature," he says. "I might be saying that because it is Saint Paddy’s Day and I’m the Irish bar in town—but better safe than sorry is probably the best approach for this."
They’ll be on a limited take out menu as will many other businesses for the next two weeks. Retail stores aren’t included in the closure order, but some have decided to shut down voluntarily. Brittany Montague is a manager at Mountain Sports, which decided to close this morning despite strong sales. "In the meantime we’re paying all of our employees and trying to take the right steps to make sure we’re not part of the problem," she says.
Hourly employees at some restaurants expect to see fewer hours and reduced pay. The closure order also affects libraries, museums, movie theaters, and fitness centers. It will remain in place through April 1.